Ford Motor Co has announced an investment of $1.05 billion in its South African manufacturing operations, marking the biggest investment in the company’s 97-year history in South Africa. It also represents one of the largest-ever investments in the South African automotive industry, boosting Ford’s production capability and creating new jobs.
Dianne Craig, president of Ford’s ‘International Markets Group’, said: “This investment will further modernise our South African operations, helping them to play an even more important role in the turnround and growth of our global automotive operations, as well as our strategic alliance with Volkswagen.
“Ranger is one of our highest volume, most successful global vehicles. This investment will equip our team with the tools and facilities to deliver the best Ford Ranger ever, in higher numbers and with superior quality.”
With this investment, Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant is expected to generate revenues exceeding 1.1% of South Africa’s gross domestic product. The annual installed capacity at the Silverton plant will increase to 200,000 vehicles from 168,000, supporting production of the all-new Ford Ranger pickup truck for the domestic market and export to over 100 global markets.
The plant also will manufacture Volkswagen pickups trucks as part of the Ford-VW strategic alliance.
The expanded production will help create 1,200 ‘incremental Ford jobs’ in South Africa, increasing the local workforce to 5,500 employees — and adding an estimated 10,000 new jobs across Ford’s local supplier network, bringing the total to 60,000.
The overall investment includes $686 million for extensive upgrades to the Silverton Assembly Plant; these include construction of a new body shop with the latest robotic technology, and a new high-tech stamping plant — both of which will be located on-site for the first time.
The new stamping plant, which will use a high-speed line to produce all the major sheet metal components for the new Ranger, includes a fully automated storage and retrieval system for stamping dies; this will be housed in the roof of the facility, thus eliminating related labour-intensive processes.
In addition, a blue-light scanner system that scans surfaces for imperfections will ensure that only products of the highest-quality leave the stamping plant. Ford is also investing $365 million to upgrade tooling at the company’s major supplier factories.