Ford Motor Company is investing R5.2 billion in the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for production of the first Ford Ranger Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), commencing in late 2024.
This, as the car manufacturer celebrates its 100-year legacy in South Africa.
In a statement, Ford says the investment for the plug-in hybrid version of the Ranger incorporates a new battery pack assembly plant that is being constructed within the Silverton plant for the PHEV system.
Ford’s Chassis Plant in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone is also being upgraded to accommodate the chassis configuration for this model, including changes to the robots, welding equipment, control systems, conveyors and skids, says the company.
Furthermore, it notes, the vehicle assembly operations are being adapted to accommodate the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid, specifically on the Trim, Chassis and Final line.
It explains this includes changes to the handling equipment, turnover fixtures, charging systems, leak detection and testing equipment, as well as a new repair area.
“The additional investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant for the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid takes our total manufacturing investment in South Africa over the past 14 years to around $1.72 billion, or nearly R33 billion,” says Andrea Cavallaro, operations director, Ford International Markets Group.
“It signals our commitment to the country, our employees and our extensive supplier network.”
Ford employs approximately 5 200 people in South Africa, says the company, adding that the local operations support around 60 000 jobs in the total value chain among supplier companies and contributes more than 1% to South Africa’s GDP.
Along with the new battery facility and plant upgrades required for the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid, the Paint Shop is being revamped to improve paint quality and first time through for all vehicles produced in South Africa, says Ford.
According to the car maker, the Silverton Assembly Plant has an installed capacity to produce 720 vehicles per day over three shifts, or 200 000 vehicles per year.
“As with the current Ranger models, the new Ranger Plug-in Hybrid will be exported to Europe as part of our commitment to offer a wide range of powertrain options for customers in this important mid-size pickup segment,” Cavallaro says.
“For the first time in about two decades, the Silverton plant will also be supplying vehicles to Australia and New Zealand, as it will be the source market for the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid for these countries.”
The Ranger Plug-in Hybrid will deliver more torque than any other Ranger, due to a 2.3-litre Ford EcoBoost turbo petrol engine paired with an electric motor and rechargeable battery system, the firm says.
It explains that it can be driven in pure electric mode for more than 45km without using a drop of fuel or producing tailpipe emissions, helping customers save at the pump and reduce their environmental impact.
It will provide all the towing and payload capability, along with Pro Power Onboard for the first time, enabling drivers to power their tools and appliances on a worksite or remote campsite by plugging them into power outlets embedded in the cargo bed and cabin.
“Today we are reaffirming our commitment to providing distinctive products and services for our customers in South Africa, supported by always-on relationships and an ever-improving user experience,” says Kay Hart, president, Ford International Markets Group.
“We will be adding two new models to the Ranger line-up, which is proudly built in South Africa and exported to more than 100 markets."