Export-oriented business is crucial for the long-term sustainability of South Africa’s automotive industry, according to Neale Hill, managing director of the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA).
Commenting on Ford’s development of its export programme for light commercial vehicles – spearheaded by the Ranger – Hill says he is delighted and encouraged by the expanding role the initiative is playing in the company’s global supply chain.
“Over 400 vehicles are assembled each day at our Silverton plant – a rate of one new vehicle every 94 seconds – about 33 an hour – with higher volumes on the cards.
“About two thirds of the vehicles assembled locally are sold in other countries, making the plant South Africa’s leader in light commercial vehicle exports,” he says.
In order to meet increasing international demand for Rangers – and to alleviate congestion issues at Durban harbour, South Africa’s major hub for vehicle exports – Hill adds that Ford began exporting Rangers from Port Elizabeth to selected European markets in April this year.
“We are shipping about 1 000 Rangers a month via Port Elizabeth, which improves our efficiency and delivery timeframes,” he says.
While production expansion is a success story for FMCSA, it is also directly linked to the significant role the company plays in both direct and indirect employment opportunities locally. Hill says about 4 300 people are employed by Ford in its local operations, with an additional 50 000 jobs supported by suppliers.