• A R15-billion investment was announced by Ford to advance technologies and systems that modernise its Silverton Assembly Plant.
• Ford will build the all-new Ranger, starting in 2022 as well the new Volkswagen Amarok as part of the companies alliance.
• The carmaker will hire an additional 1200 team members to support expanded production.
• The Silverton plant's annual installed capacity will increase to 200 000 vehicles from 168 000.
Ford Motor Company announced an investment of $1.05-billion or R15.8 billion in its South African manufacturing operations.
The carmaker will build its Ranger bakkie at the Silverton Plant in Pretoria and the investment will boost the company's production capability and create new jobs it says.
"This investment will further modernise our South African operations, helping them to play an even more important role in the turnaround and growth of our global automotive operations, as well as our strategic alliance with Volkswagen," said Dianne Craig, president, Ford's International Markets Group.
The announcement of the investment was attended by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as several key government leaders and senior Ford executives.
Increase capacity to over 200 000 vehicles
With this investment, Ford's Silverton Assembly Plant is expected to generate revenues exceeding 1.1% of South Africa's gross domestic product.
The Silverton plant's annual installed capacity will increase to 200 000 vehicles from 168 000, supporting the 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 1200 incremental Ford jobs in South Africa, increasing the local workforce to 5500 employees, and adding an estimated 10 000 new jobs across Ford's local supplier network, bringing the total to 60 000, the US carmaker said.
The overall investment includes R10.3-billion for extensive upgrades to the Silverton Assembly Plant that will increase production volume and drive significant improvements in production efficiency and vehicle quality, according to the carmaker.
Significant changes include constructing 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.
A new stamping plant will use a high-speed line to produce all the major sheet metal components for the new Ranger. Ford says it includes a fully automated storage and retrieval system for stamping dies, which will be housed innovatively in the facility's roof, thus eliminating related labour-intensive processes.
Extensive upgrades will also be made to the box line, paint shop and final assembly to improve vehicle flow within the plant and expand the container and vehicle yards.
"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.
Ford wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
The new investment program builds on the recently announced Project Blue Oval renewable energy project, which aligns with the company's global target of using 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants by 2035 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the company said.
The first phase of Project Blue Oval already is underway with the construction of solar carports for 4200 vehicles at the Silverton plant.
"It will be one of the very first Ford plants anywhere in the world to achieve this status," Cavallaro said.
Ford also will invest R5.5-billion to upgrade tooling at the company's primary supplier factories.
"Supporting our suppliers with this new tooling will ensure we modernise together to deliver world-class quality for the all-new Ranger at higher volumes for our domestic and import customers," Cavallaro said.