Ford Motor Company today announced an investment of US$1.05 billion (R15.8 billion) in its South African manufacturing operations – the largest investment in Ford’s 97-year history in South Africa. It is also one of the largest investments ever made in the South African automotive industry, boosting Ford’s production capacity and creating new jobs.
“This investment will further modernise our South African operations, helping them to play an even more important role in the transformation and growth of our global automotive operations and our strategic alliance with Volkswagen,” said Dianne Craig, President of Ford’s International Markets Group. “Ranger is one of our largest, most successful vehicles in the world. This investment will equip our team with the tools and facilities needed to deliver the best Ford Ranger ever, in higher numbers and with superior quality.”
Ford announced investments at a media briefing attended by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as key government leaders, including Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan, Gauteng Prime Minister David Makhura, Tshwan City Executive Mayor Randall Williams, and senior Ford executives.
With this investment, Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant is expected to generate revenues of more than 1.1 per cent of South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The annual installed capacity of the Silverton plant will boost from 168,000 vehicles to 200,000, supporting the production of the all-new Ford Ranger pick-up truck on the domestic market and export to more than 100 global markets. The plant will also manufacture Volkswagen pick-up trucks as part of the Ford-VW strategic alliance.
Extended production will help create 1,200 additional Ford jobs in South Africa, increase the local workforce to 5,500 and add an estimated 10,000 new jobs across Ford’s local supplier network, bringing the total to 60,000.
The total investment includes US$686 million (R10.3 billion) for extensive upgrades to the Silverton Assembly Plant, which will increase production volume and lead to significant improvements in production efficiency and vehicle quality.
These include the construction of a new body shop with the latest robotic technology and a new high-tech stamping plant, both of which will be on-site for the first time. Both facilities will modernise and streamline Silverton’s integrated manufacturing process while contributing to higher quality and reducing overall costs and waste.
The new stamping plant will use a high-speed line to manufacture all major sheet metal components for the new Ranger. It includes a fully automated storage and recovery system for stamping dies, which will be innovatively housed on the roof of the facility, eliminating the associated labour-intensive processes.
In addition, a modern blue-light scanner system that scans imperfection surfaces will ensure that the final product leaves the stamping plant of the highest quality.
Extensive upgrades will also be made to the box line, paint shop and final assembly to improve vehicle flow within the plant, along with the expansion of the container and vehicle yards.
Ford will also build new vehicle modification and training centres – developed to ensure that all Ford employees have the knowledge and skills needed to maximise the efficiency of Silverton’s enhanced facilities.
“The extensive upgrades and new state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies will drive efficiencies across our entire South Africa operation – from sequenced delivery of parts direct to the assembly line, to increased vehicle production line speeds and precision of assembly to ensure the world-class quality that our customers expect,” said Andrea Cavallaro, director of Operations, Ford’s International Markets Group.