Ford Southern Africa MD Casper Kruger.      Picture: SUPPLIED
Ford Southern Africa MD Casper Kruger. Picture: SUPPLIED

US motor company Ford is to spend a further R3bn on its South African manufacturing operations, it announced on Friday. The investment will be used to expand production capacity of the Ford Ranger bakkie and introduce a new off-road variant, the Raptor.

The new cash injection will take spending at Ford Southern Africa to nearly R10bn since the current Ranger was launched in 2011. Upgrades since then have included the introduction of the upmarket Everest sports-utility vehicle.

The Silverton vehicle assembly plant, in Pretoria, has annual capacity to build 110,000 Rangers. From next year, this will rise to 127,000. It is not clear yet what the new limit will be, but Ockert Berry, head of operations for Ford Middle East and Africa, said: "The expanded production capacity will ensure we are fully prepared to respond to additional future market demands."

He added: "This significant investment reaffirms Ford’s ongoing commitment to SA as a local manufacturer, exporter and key employer in the automotive sector."

Ranger has been SA’s second most popular vehicle of any description — including cars — for the past two years, behind only the Toyota Hilux. Figures released this week showed that, in October, Ranger actually outsold its archrival.

The vehicle is also exported to more than 140 markets around the world. Besides Silverton, Ford also exports engines from its Struandale factory in Port Elizabeth.

The Raptor, based on a high-performance, desert-racing derivative, will be introduced globally from 2019, with Silverton as a source plant. Ford Southern Africa MD Casper Kruger said: "We’re exceptionally proud to confirm that this highly anticipated performance model will be assembled in SA. This is yet another fantastic achievement for our local team and signals our ability to produce world-class products of the highest calibre."

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