Ford Motor Company has announced an investment of $1.05 billion in its South African manufacturing operations, marking the biggest investment in Ford’s 97-year history in South Africa. It also represents one of the largest-ever investments in the South African automotive industry, boosting Ford’s production capability and creating new jobs.
With this investment, Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant is expected to generate revenue exceeding 1.1% of South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The annual installed capacity at the Silverton plant will increase to 200,000 vehicles from 168,000, supporting 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 1,200 incremental Ford jobs in South Africa, increasing the local workforce to 5,500 employees, and adding an estimated 10,000 new jobs across Ford’s local supplier network, bringing the total to 60,000.
The overall investment includes $686 million for extensive upgrades to the Silverton Assembly Plant that will increase production volume and drive significant improvements in production efficiency and vehicle quality.
These include construction of 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. Both facilities will modernise and streamline the integrated manufacturing process at Silverton while contributing to higher quality and reducing overall cost and waste.
The new stamping plant will use a high-speed line to produce all the major sheet metal components for the new Ranger. It includes a fully automated storage and retrieval system for stamping dies, which will be housed innovatively in the roof of the facility, thus eliminating related labour-intensive processes. In addition, a modern blue-light scanner system that scans surfaces for imperfections will ensure the highest-quality final product leaves the stamping plant.
Extensive upgrades also will 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 also will build new vehicle modification and training centres, the latter developed to ensure all Ford employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to maximise the efficiencies of the enhanced Silverton facilities.
Ford also will invest $365 million to upgrade tooling at the company’s major supplier factories.
“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. “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.”