Ford in SA doubles capacity of Struandale engine plant

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The Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has more than doubled the capacity of its Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth, including the installation of a new diesel engine assembly line with an installed capacity of 120000 engines a year, as part of its R3billion investment in production expansion in South Africa.

The assembly capacity of the existing Duratorq TDCi engine would also grow to 130000 engines a year from 115000 units, while the installed capacity for the machined component sets for the Duratorq TDCi programme, including the cylinder head, block and crankshaft, was set to increase from the current 254000 to 280000 units.

Jacques Brent, the president of Ford Middle East and Africa, said yesterday that the investment in the engine plant included the installation of a sophisticated new assembly line for an all-new diesel engine programme that would, among other models, power the new Ford Raptor range when it was launched next year.

Eight derivatives of the new engine will be assembled at the plant when production officially commences in the fourth quarter of this year.

“At the same time, we are boosting capacity for the current Duratorq TDCi engine that is used in the Ford Ranger and Everest with new derivatives and additional European markets being introduced for the local operations,” he said.

“Our upgrades for the Duratorq TDCi programme add incremental volumes, with 22 new four-cylinder engine derivatives to be exported to European markets, including for use in front-wheel-drive Ford models,” he said.

The plant would be assembling a total of 56 variants of the Duratorq TDCi engine, including the additional 2.2litre engine derivatives coming on line in the fourth quarter of this year.

Neil Stander, the programmes and engineering manager at Ford’s Struandale engine plant, said the number of markets being served by the plant would increase from four to seven, with Italy, Turkey and Russia added as significant new customers.

The four existing customers of the engine plant were South Africa, North America, India and China, he said.

John Cameron, the plant manager of the Struandale engine plant, said the plant would ultimately become the home of all Duratorq TDCi engine component machining for the Ranger, Everest and Transit, along with expanded engine assembly in conjunction with current operations at Ford plants in Thailand and Argentina.

Brent said this placed Ford’s South African business in a central role within the global Ford network and reaffirmed its commitment to developing the automotive industry within the local market and in the broader Middle East and Africa region.

The investment in the engine plant includes a new diesel engine assembly hall located in a totally revamped 3868m² section of the plant and a totally new 5418m² warehouse facility to house all the required parts, components and tools on site to maximise production efficiency for the two engine programmes.

Brent declined to provide a breakdown of the R3bn investment, but indicated that most of it was in their vehicle production plant in Silverton in Pretoria.

The investment in Ford’s Silverton plant increased its annual capacity from 110000 units to 124000 units on two shifts, which produces the Ranger and Everest.

The Ranger is exported to 148 markets globally while the Everest is sold in South Africa and exported to markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

John Cameron, the plant manager of the engine plant, said the increased production capacity would over time create new jobs in the plant.

The engine components produced in the plant were exported to Ford engine plants in Thailand and Argentina, while engines were also shipped to India and China for Ford Everest production, while the 3.2 litre five-cylinder units were supplied to North America for the Ford Transit.