Ford SA's Port Elizabeth engine plant has made a major breakthrough into the European market by securing the contract to produce RoCam engines for the adorable SportKa and StreetKa roadster.

Ford SA's Port Elizabeth engine plant has made a major breakthrough into the European market by securing the contract to produce RoCam engines for the adorable SportKa and StreetKa roadster.

Ford has invested more than one billion rand in the plant over the past five years and the plant will be supplying 1 000 engines a month. First shipments of the 1,6-litre engine are already on their way to the SportKa plant in Valencia, Spain, and to Pininfarina's StreetKa production facility in Turin, Italy.

The Streetka was designed in a partnership between Ford Europe and the coachbuilder Pininfarina, which is also the first non-Ford customer of this engine.

"This breakthrough into a new market is significant because it increases the programme life of the RoCam engine plant and diversifies its customer base," said Javier Igual, Ford engine plant manager.

"It is a great and challenging opportunity for the RoCam engine plant as we will be adding 1 000 engines to our monthly build schedule, which will ensure that the plant is running near to capacity."

Igual said the plant won the Ka order because of its high quality standards and record of delivery.

"If we want to compete in the European market, we have no option but to be the quality leader in Europe," he said.

The facility is also looking for new and greater opportunities and is hoping to achieve this through quality and flexibility.

"We want to be the engine plant of choice for Europe in the future," Igual said. "South Africa is competing against China, India and Brazil, which have a much lower cost of manufacturing and we have to compete on productivity and quality," he added.

The plant is the sole supplier of engines to the two Ka models, which have been fitted with Ford's Duratec motor since they were launched two years ago. RoCam engines are only manufactured in Brazil and South Africa.