Ford powers up for next phase

New diesel engine on the way, hi-tech assembly line unveiled Having now implemented a portion of its recent R3-billion investment into its South African operations, Ford Motor Company of South Africa announced a new diesel engine range yesterday and unveiled a new hi-tech assembly line at its Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth.

The engine range, which will be built at the new production facility alongside the Duratorq TDCi engine being assembled at the plant, was designed in the United Kingdom and will power Fords’ much anticipated new Ranger Raptor when the pick-up is launched next year. Boasting new robotics and described as sophisticated, the more automated assembly facility will not result in any job losses, but will facilitate more jobs when production is ramped up in the future. While the company did not reveal financial specifics yesterday, it emerged that a large portion of the R3-billion investment, which had been announced late last year, was allocated to the Ranger Raptor build. Although the engine range has not yet been named it is, according to Ford, physically smaller and lighter than the Duratorq TDCi range and is regarded has being more powerful. Addressing media from around the country yesterday, Ford’s Port Elizabeth-born president for Africa and the Middle East Jacques Brent said the new engine build at Struandale signalled Ford’s long-term commitment to the city. “We are delighted to confirm that, as part of the R3-billion investment announced in November 2017, we are expanding both the capability and capacity of the Struandale Engine Plant for our engine programmes,” he said. “At the same time, we are boosting capacity for the 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.” Brent said the Duratorq TDCi assembly line would now have 22 new rear and front wheel drive derivatives added to it, along with three new markets for the engine in Europe.

The diesel engine assembly hall was located in a totally revamped 3 868m² section of the factory where the company deployed Ford’s latest, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, he said. Eight derivatives of the engine will be assembled at the plant when production officially starts in the fourth quarter of this year, while the new assembly line has an installed capacity of 120 000 engines per annum. “The component machining and assembly lines for the Duratorq TDCi are also being expanded,” Brent said. “Our upgrades for the programme add incremental volumes, with the 22 four-cylinder engine derivatives to be exported to European markets, including for use in front-wheel drive Ford models.” Brent named the plant’s new customers as Italy, Turkey and Russia. “Ultimately, the Struandale Engine Plant will 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,” he said. “This places our South African business in a central role within the local market, and in the broader Middle East and Africa region.” By the fourth quarter of this year, a total of 56 variants of the award-winning Duratorq TDCi engine will be assembled. Ford has also constructed a new 5 418m² warehouse to cater for the increased and new production.