The Star Early Edition

Ford in­vests R3bn in SA plant

Boost for jobs in the sec­tor

- Roy Cokyane

HUN­DREDS of new di­rect and in­di­rect jobs are ex­pected to be cre­ated by a new R3 billion in­vest­ment by the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany of South­ern Africa (FMCSA) to fur­ther in­crease the man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity of its Sil­ver­ton plant in Pre­to­ria and en­able it to meet grow­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional de­mand for the Ford Ranger.

The lat­est in­vest­ment by Ford fol­lows its R2.5bn in­vest­ment in the plant last year to pro­duce the new Ford Ever­est, which cre­ated about 1 200 new jobs.

Casper Kruger, managing di­rec­tor of FMCSA, said on Fri­day the ad­di­tional R3bn in­vest­ment was a con­fir­ma­tion of Ford’s com­mit­ment to SA.

From 2019 the plant would also start pro­duc­ing the Ranger Rap­tor, which would in­tro­duce an en­tirely new level of off-road per­for­mance and ca­pa­bil­ity to the one-ton pickup seg­ment.

Ock­ert Berry, the vice-pres­i­dent of operations for Ford Middle East and Africa, said the R3bn in­vest­ment in­cluded prod­uct and ca­pac­ity-re­lated ac­tions.

“Look­ing fur­ther ahead, the ex­panded pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity will en­sure that we are geared up and fully pre­pared to re­spond to ad­di­tional fu­ture mar­ket de­mands for the Ranger, by ramp­ing up our pro­duc­tion even fur­ther,” he said.

The Ranger is ex­ported to 148 mar­kets glob­ally.

Kruger said in­vest­ment would in­crease the plant’s an­nual ca­pac­ity from 110 000 units to 127 000 on two shifts from Jan­uary next year, with the po­ten­tial to pro­duce 167 000 units a year on three shifts.

Berry said the in­stal­la­tion of fa­cil­i­ties re­lated to the new in­vest­ment started in the plant in Fe­bru­ary and would be fi­nalised and com­pleted dur­ing the plant’s shut­down in De­cem­ber.

The in­vest­ment ex­cluded the R125 mil­lion invested in the up­grade of the ve­hi­cle con­veyor sys­tem in the plant in May this year, he added.

The in­creased pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and vol­umes pro­duced would cre­ate ad­di­tional di­rect and in­di­rect jobs, but Berry de­clined to quan­tify how many new jobs would be cre­ated.

How­ever, he said it would not be in­cor­rect to con­clude that if pro­duc­tion vol­umes in­creased by 27 per­cent that em­ploy­ment would in­crease by a sim­i­lar per­cent­age de­spite in­creased au­to­ma­tion in the plant in the body shop, paint shop and trim fi­nal sec­tion.

Berry em­pha­sised that the in­creased au­to­ma­tion was fo­cused on spe­cific qual­ity out­comes and to take the plant to “the next level” in terms of qual­ity.

FMCSA cur­rently has be­tween 3 500 to 4 000 di­rect em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing those at its en­gine plant in Struan­dale, Port El­iz­a­beth.

He said the Ranger pro­gramme has been an un­prece­dented suc­cess and that they de­liv­ered a new all-time record of 10 117 Rangers in Septem­ber, com­pris­ing 7 780 for the ex­port mar­ket and 2 337 do­mes­tic sales.

He said that to date more than 46 000 Ford Rangers had been ex­ported from South Africa, and 27 048 sold in the do­mes­tic mar­ket.

“This con­tin­ues to se­cure Ford’s sta­tus as one of the re­gion’s lead­ing ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers and a global cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for the Ford Ranger pro­gramme,” Berry said.

He said Ford was not pre­pared to guess what de­mand there would be for the Ford Rap­tor and were putting fa­cil­i­ties in the plant to ac­com­mo­date “any vol­ume” for the model.

They ini­tially started pro­duc­ing seven Ford Wild­traks a day but were now build­ing 200 a day, which caused is­sues after­wards when they tried to change the plant’s fa­cil­i­ties.

Kruger wouldn’t say when the cur­rent Ford Ranger, which was launched in 2011, would be re­placed.

He pointed out that un­like a pas­sen­ger car, which has a life cy­cle of about seven years, a light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle’s was about 10 years.

 ?? PHOTO: SUP­PLIED ?? Ford’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Sil­ver­ton, Pre­to­ria, is set for fur­ther ex­pan­sion fol­low­ing a multi­bil­lion-rand in­vest­ment.
PHOTO: SUP­PLIED Ford’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Sil­ver­ton, Pre­to­ria, is set for fur­ther ex­pan­sion fol­low­ing a multi­bil­lion-rand in­vest­ment.
 ?? PHOTO: BON­GANI SHILULBANE/ANA ?? Casper Kruger, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Ford SA, said its op­er­a­tions will be ex­panded to ac­com­mo­date the Ford Ranger.
PHOTO: BON­GANI SHILULBANE/ANA Casper Kruger, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Ford SA, said its op­er­a­tions will be ex­panded to ac­com­mo­date the Ford Ranger.

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