South African Silverton plant will build next Ranger and platform-sharing Volkswagen Amarok, creating more than 10,000 jobs.
Ford is expanding its operations in South Africa, making its largest-ever investment in the country to the tune of $1.05 billion (AUD$1.4bn).
The sum will be invested in Ford’s factory in Silverton, to prepare it to produce the new Ranger pickup truck next year, improving its environmental credentials and increasing its annual capacity from 168,000 to 200,000 vehicles.
To achieve this enhanced capacity, Ford will hire 1200 new workers at the Silverton plant, bringing its overall South Africa workforce to 5500 employees as well as creating around 10,000 new jobs in the plant’s supply chains.
The firm will also spend $686 million (AUD$903 million) upgrading the plant’s infrastructure. The upgrades include a new on-site robot-equipped body shop and stamping plant, box line and paint shop improvements and the addition of new vehicle modification and training centres.
President of Ford’s International Markets Group, Dianne Craig, said: “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.”
While the 2022 Ford Ranger will be the Silverton plant’s main focus, the plant will also produce the next-gen Volkswagen Amarok. Both pick-ups are being developed together in a partnership between the two companies said to greatly improve economies of scale.
Ford confirmed a wide-ranging global alliance last year that will see the two firms join forces to develop commercial vehicles and pickups, including a Ford EV built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform.
The plant’s carbon footprint is also an important focus. As well as production line upgrades, Ford’s investment will fund construction of 4200 solar-equipped car ports at the Silverton plant, with further environment-saving innovations earmarked for the future.
Andrea Cavallaro, Ford director of Operations, said: “Our aim is to achieve ‘Island Mode’, taking the Silverton Assembly Plant completely off the grid, becoming entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024.”