American vehicle manufacturer, Ford, has made a one billion dollar investment into its assembly line in South Africa. Part of this cash injection will be used to support local parts manufacturers and suppliers who work with Ford. In total, around 10 000 jobs will be created and sustained through this massive pledge; 1200 of which will be direct Ford employees. This is the single largest investment made by Ford into South Africa since it started trading in the country in 1923.
A big portion of the one billion dollars will go towards the manufacture of the Ford Ranger – one of the top-three selling vehicles in Southern Africa. The company’s Silverton plant in Pretoria will be upgraded, modernised and made more sustainable. Ford is aiming to make the assembly line carbon neutral and self-sustaining by 2024 – 11 years ahead of South Africa’s 2035 goal for automotive manufacturers.
“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,” says the president of Ford’s International Markets Group, Dianne Craig. At the same time, Ford has stated their intention to scale back operations in Europe and South America.
Ford Silverton plant to boost output
The investment will help to create more jobs across the supplier network. “[The] 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,” explains Craig.
The investment will help to boost the output of the Silverton facility, which is now expected to reach 200 000 vehicles per year. “This investment will make the Silverton Assembly Plant one of the biggest Ranger plants globally and one of the largest Ford truck plants outside the United States,” says South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“This will help to expand and transform our country’s manufacturing base, improve its export capacity, create employment and develop skills,” he adds. “The one billion dollar investment announced today by the Ford Motor Company of South Africa is a clear statement of the company’s confidence in this development and its ambitions for its South African business,” explains President Ramaphosa.
South African government has welcomed Ford with open arms
For many years, the South African government has supported the local manufacturing of vehicles. The country is one of the largest producers of vehicles on the African continent and the quality of the vehicles certainly rivals those made elsewhere in the world. Andrea Cavallaro, director of operations at Ford’s International Markets Group, says that South Africa’s trade agreements and willingness to implement infrastructure requirements were key influences for Ford’s investment.
“The transformation here in South Africa is not just about the next model. We want it to be a huge hub for the export of this product – it is a global product and is hugely successful. It was an easy decision,” explains Cavallaro. South Africa has always supported its automotive industry, which is a major contributor to the national economy.
This investment has strengthened Ford’s supply network. Production at the Silverton plant will include the new Ford Everest SUV and the Volkswagen Amarok – VW and Ford have formed a strategic alliance to co-produce vehicles and share manufacturing technology in South Africa. This partnership was agreed upon in June 2020 and includes a roll-out of electric and self-driving cars for both brands in the near future.
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