TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US car maker's South African plant to export new Ranger to Europe, Africa, Russia

Friday, 05 November 2010

Source: Engineering News (South Africa)

South Africa's increasingly competitive pick-up market will welcome a new combatant next year, as Ford this week provided the first glimpse of its new, bigger one-ton Ranger, which will be produced in Pretoria for the local market, the rest of Africa, as well as Europe, Russia and Turkey.

The new Ranger, designed in Australia, is to follow in the footsteps of the recently launched Volkswagen Amarok in taking on Toyota's long-time dominance in the local pick-up market.

The reinvented Ranger comes to the local production scene in a R3-billion investment programme which, apart from increasing vehicle production capacity at the Silverton plant, will also see the local production of the diesel engine for the pick-up range at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa's (FMCSA's) Port Elizabeth engine plant.

FMCSA's Struandale facility will have the installed capacity to manufacture 220 000 cylinder heads, cylinder blocks and crankshafts a year for the new Puma engine.

Production of these components will start at the end of April next year, with yearly exports of 145 000 of these parts to Ford's Argentina and Thailand engine plants. The remainder of the parts will go to the production of the Puma engine for use by FMCSA in its Ranger assembly programme, which is to kick off in the second half of 2011.

Production capacity at the single-platform Pretoria plant will be 110 000 Rangers a year - a massive leap from the 28 000 Ranger, Focus and Bantam models assembled at the facility in 2009.

South Africa is one of only three worldwide manufacturing destinations for the new Ranger, with the other plants located in Thailand and Argentina, which are also counted as global pick-up strongholds, said Ford Asia Pacific and Africa president Joe Hinrichs in Sydney, ahead of the official unveiling of the Ranger on Friday morning.

He noted that the leap for the South African plant to become a high-volume, global Ranger source is particularly big.

Hinrichs said that the Ranger is the first global compact truck to be created under the One Ford strategy, which has already seen the launch of the new Fiesta and Focus passenger cars. The One Ford strategy basically embraces the principle of creating global products that look, perform and feel the same all over the world.

"We want to leverage our investment to the maximum," said Hinrichs.

He said that consumers from Argentina to Australia have similar demands on trucks in terms of capability and toughness, which enables the application of the One Ford strategy on the Ranger model.

The new Ranger then also replaces the two platforms currently in production regionally.

An example of the One Ford strategy in action is that the exterior of the new Ranger will be made from the same sheet metal design regardless of its manufacturing location. (For South Africa this means that one local supplier will provide the metal stampings for the entire body of the vehicle - a first in Ford manufacturing.)

The result is a win-win situation for both parties, said Hinrichs.

For example, "suppliers . . . are able to run their plants at maximum capacity with little or no downtime with the additional stamping opportunities."

The new Ranger - in a single cab, double-cab and supercab body style -- will go on sale in more than 180 markets worldwide. It comes to South African showrooms before the end of 2011.

With new powertrains promising to sip rather than gulp, while also offering high torque and an array of new technologies, Hinrichs believes that the fresh-faced Ranger is up "for the battle for compact truck leadership".

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