Finweek English Edition

Ford SA’s manufactur­ing operation boosts jobs

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Ford’s vision for its Silverton assembly plant and the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) is rapidly being transforme­d into reality.

The first phase of Ford’s $1.05bn investment to modernise and grow the Silverton plant to increase production of the next-generation Ford Ranger bakkie has already been completed. A seven-week shutdown facilitate­d the installati­on of upgrades to the Ranger assembly line and introduced advanced technologi­es and systems, bringing manufactur­ing operations in line with Ford’s plants in the rest of the world.

The plant can now produce 200 000 vehicles annually, making the plant one of the biggest Rangerprod­ucing plants globally. The addition of a third shift enables Ford SA to produce up to 720 vehicles daily, thus one Ranger every two minutes. Around 1 200 new jobs have been created because of the third shift, and an additional 10 000 jobs have been added to the supply chain.

Ford is currently constructi­ng a new body shop and stamping plant on the Silverton site along with a new 100 000m2 in-house frame line in the adjacent TASEZ. About 8 700 first-phase constructi­on jobs and an estimated 3 000 new jobs for operations can already be attributed to the TASEZ.

Ford’s goal to link the Silverton plant and the TASEZ with Port Elizabeth is still on the cards. It’s a long, slow process given dealings with government and Transnet but one which Neale Hill, managing director of Ford South Africa, believes will come about. “To us it makes complete sense because of the overrelian­ce on Durban,” he says.

The Ranger has been produced at Silverton since 2000. The current generation Ford Ranger, celebratin­g its 10th year of production, remains SA’s top LCV export year-to-date and Europe’s top-selling pickup.

Production of the new Ranger pickup commences in 2022. And it won’t only be Rangers rolling off Ford’s upgraded assembly line. As part of the Ford-VW strategic alliance, the new-generation VW Amarok will also be built at Ford’s Silverton plant. ■

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