Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa says the first trial units of the new Ranger Raptor have rolled off the assembly line at the Blue Oval brand’s Silverton facility in Pretoria.

In preparation for full-scale production, the factory has produced its first ten Ranger Raptor units in what the brand describes as a “build-up phase”, implemented to validate its extensively upgraded (to the tune of R3-billion) assembly line.

The Ranger Raptor is set to launch in South Africa in the first half of 2019.

“This is a momentous occasion for everyone at Ford, as we witnessed our first Ranger Raptor TT unit coming off the line after more than 18 months of extensive upgrades and modifications to the Silverton assembly plant,” said Ockert Berry, vice president of operations at Ford Middle East and Africa.

“We continue to invest in our local operations to meet growing demand for the Ranger, and are currently introducing new equipment on the assembly line to improve the handling of the chassis turn-over, adding incremental buffers in the ‘trim, chassis and final’ line as well as new shipping conveyors in the fitment centre,” Berry added.

“This is an additional R160-million investment in readiness for our expanded production capacity, commencing early next year,” he said.

The Ranger Raptor is powered by a new twin-turbo 2,0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine delivering 157 kW and 500 N.m of torque, and mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. This new engine will be built at Ford’s Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth, while the Ranger Raptor itself will be produced both in Thailand and at the Silverton assembly plant.

“The Ranger Raptor is an exciting and very important model for us, as it pioneers an entirely new dimension for the pick-up or bakkie market and represents the first Ford Performance model to be produced in South Africa, destined for export to customers throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Berry said.