Ford toasts SA production milestone

Cindy Preller

FORD Motor Company’s global president, Alan Mulally, celebrated the three millionth unit rolling off its South African production line this week.

The company’s very first motor vehicle assembly plant was housed in a converted wool store in Port Elizabeth 90 years ago where 10 vehicles a day were assembled.

Ford celebrated this production milestone at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria with Mulally, who was also one of the highest ranking executives from vehicle manufacturers who visited the Johannesburg International Motor Show this week.

“Only last week we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the moving assembly line invented by Ford under the leadership of Henry Ford. The company is building on its legacy of innovation by expanding advanced manufacturing capabilities and introducing technologies that could revolutionise mass production for decades to come,” Mulally said.

Ford is standardising their products for the global market and, Mulally said, for South Africans this would translate into world-class training and skills transfers.

“At Ford we are accelerating our efforts to standardise production, make factories more flexible and introduce advanced technologies to efficiently build the best vehicles possible at the best value for our customers. South Africa is one of only three assembly plants around the world that produces the new Ranger and as such competes on a global stage,” he said.

Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in the Bay, which employs 600 hourly and salaried workers, recently started exporting the new Power Stroke 3.2-litre diesel engines for the North American Transit, which is assembled in Kansas City, Missouri.

In addition to the Transit engines, the Struandale plant also manufactures and exports components to other Ford plants across the world.

The Struandale engine plant was opened in 1964 by Henry Ford II while Ford’s Neave factory in Port Elizabeth was opened in 1948 by General Jan Smuts. It was closed due to anti-apartheid pressure in 1985.

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa chief executive Jeff Nemeth said the company had come a long way since starting out in Port Elizabeth in 1923.

“Today we produce around 370 vehicles a day that has seen us reach our three millionth vehicle milestone. As much as our heritage is American, we’re South African too. We’re one of the longest operating car manufacturing companies in South Africa, and this milestone speaks to our commitment to the local market, ” Nemeth said. Mulally did not visit the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth and jetted off back to America yesterday.

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