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Ford South Africa Celebrates A Huge Production Milestone

Image source: Ford South Africa

If there was ever any doubt about South Africa’s contribution to the global motor manufacturing industry, then those doubts should be dispelled forever by the news that Ford has reached the milestone of one million Ford Rangers built at its Silverton Manufacturing Plant in Pretoria.

These Rangers have been exported around the world since the year 2000 and Ford has invested massively in the operation, creating approximately 60,000 jobs in the total value chain. Awards garnered by Ford’s most popular model include the 2023 South African Car of the Year title, three International Pick-up Awards and top ratings from respected local motoring publications.

Image source: Ford South Africa

The Ranger’s legacy in South Africa encompasses three generations, with a tale of constant evolution and innovation of this trusted and much-loved nameplate that has become a cornerstone of Ford’s local line-up, and one of the country’s most popular vehicles. It has racked up an impressively long list of awards along the way, and made an incalculable and indelible impact on businesses, communities and individuals, while helping elevate South Africa’s automotive industry onto the global stage.

“It’s fitting that we celebrate reaching and now rapidly surpassing the one-millionth locally produced Ranger during Ford’s Centenary year in South Africa,” says Neale Hill, president, of Ford Motor Company Africa. “Production of the first-generation Ranger commenced in 2000, which coincided with the official return of Ford Motor Company to South Africa. Both of these events were defining moments in the brand’s local history and set the tone for Ford’s firm commitment to the country.

Image source: Ford South Africa

“We have continued to invest extensively in our local operations at the Silverton Manufacturing Plant and the Struandale Engine Plant to expand Ranger production for the South African market, and to support crucial exports to more than 100 global markets,” Hill says.

“At our Centenary event last year, we were delighted to announce a further investment for the exciting new Ranger Plug-in Hybrid EV as the latest chapter in this remarkable story. This reinforces the significance of our local operations and the contribution of our South African team in the global success of the Ranger program,” Hill says.

Image source: Ford South Africa

The first-generation Ranger was produced between 2000 and 2011, which included Ford South Africa’s first significant foray into export markets which commenced in 2008, with right-hand drive and left-hand drive models shipped from the Silverton Manufacturing Plant to markets across Africa. Production ended in late 2011 with more than 100,000 Rangers manufactured in what had been a multi-platform assembly facility, producing both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Image source: Ford South Africa

As Ford’s first global pick-up truck, the second-generation Ranger was a true game-changer – both for the nature of the company’s local operations, and for the industry as a truly trend-setting vehicle with all-new levels of performance, space, comfort, safety, technology and capability.

Production at the Silverton plant transitioned to a high-volume flexible single platform for the 2011 Ranger, with the global export program at its core, and an initial installed capacity pegged at 110,000 vehicles per year. This revolutionary new model also led to significant investments in the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha for the component machining and assembly of the 2.2L and 3.2L Duratorq TDCi engines.

Image source: Ford South Africa

Multiple evolutions of this model range followed over the years, including further advances in technology, safety and refinement that placed this highly capable and tough-as-nails workhorse on par with luxury passenger cars. The 2019 addition of the powerful but efficient 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo diesel engines, and the arrival of the groundbreaking first-ever Ranger Raptor, raised the ante even further. Accordingly, it was no surprise that the venerable pick-up had been elevated to top-selling status in the new vehicle sales charts in South Africa, and the versatile Ranger Double Cab became the default choice for a wide range of customers.

Image source: Ford South Africa

The second-generation Ranger chapter drew to a close in November 2022 with a total of
873 751 units produced in South Africa – with around two-thirds making their way to export markets.

The launch of the third and current-generation Ranger at the end of 2022 followed a massive investment and expansion program for the Silverton Manufacturing Plant to increase installed capacity to 200,000 vehicles per year – or 720 vehicles per day, which is the highest volume of any vehicle manufacturer in South Africa.

Image source: Ford South Africa

“To achieve these unprecedented volumes, we adopted a no-compromise approach. We constructed our first on-site Stamping Plant, built the only Ford-owned and operated Chassis Plant in the world, installed an all-new Body Shop and completely modernized the Ranger assembly line,” says Ockert Berry, vice president of Operations, Ford South Africa. “This gave us full control of the manufacturing process, and with a high level of cutting-edge automation, it ensured that we achieved consistent volumes and the highest quality for our customers.

Image source: Ford South Africa

“The Chassis Plant was also very significant in that it was built in the newly developed Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone adjacent to the Silverton plant,” Berry says. “This automotive supplier hub was the first of its kind in South Africa, and was the result of a unique public-private partnership between Ford and national, provincial and local government. It now houses 11 component suppliers that provide parts directly to the Ranger assembly line.”

Image source: Ford South Africa

Having great products and facilities are essential ingredients for success, but it’s the people that make it happen. “We currently employ around 5,200 people, and support approximately 60,000 jobs in the total value chain,” Berry says. “Many of our employees and those at supplier companies in the Tshwane Automotive SEZ come from the communities surrounding the Silverton plant. As a result, we are a major contributor to the economic development and empowerment of this region.

“We are also exceptionally proud that we have a large number of employees with decades of service, along with numerous multi-generational families that have been and remain part of the Ford family at both the Silverton and Struandale plants,” Berry says. “Many of these dedicated generations of family members have only ever worked at Ford, and play an important role in building the vibrant culture and pride, and the commitment to excellence, that permeates throughout the company.”

Image source: Ford South Africa

Global praise was heaped on the second-generation Ranger, and it received the acclaimed International Pick-up Award in 2013 from the International Van of the Year jury. Ranger repeated the feat in 2020 with the updated version of this model, and then the all-new Ranger took the prized title once again in 2023 following its global launch.

Notably, the new Ranger won the South African Car of the Year title in 2023, becoming the first pick-up to win the local motoring industry’s most revered award. And it was selected as the Best 4×4 & Pick-up in the Women’s World Car of the Year competition.

Image source: Ford South Africa

The only question now for the Silverton plant is, how long before the two millionth Ranger rolls off the production line?

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
From an early age, Harry was obsessed with anything that moved under its own steam, particularly cars and motorcycles. For reasons of a financial nature, his stable of fine automobiles failed to materialise, at which point he realised that motorcycles were far more affordable and so he started his two wheel career, owning, riding, building and fixing many classic bikes. Then came the day when he converted his love of bikes into a living, writing, filming and talking about them endlessly. The passion for four wheels never left him, however, and he has now converted his writing skills into singing the praises of cars in all their infinite variety. Bikes are still his favourite means of getting around but the car in its modern form is reaching a level of perfection that is hard to resist. And they're warmer in winter....
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