Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has released sales and export figures for 2020 for its locally produced Ranger bakkie.

The Blue Oval brand says as many as 18 846 Ranger units were registered in South Africa in 2020, enough to see it place in the top three best-selling vehicles in the country, behind the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Polo Vivo.

Ford says the Ranger recorded its “peak” sales for the year in September (2 188), October (2 203) and November (2 100).

As expected, the bakkie led the sales charge for the firm, which ended 2020 with an overall sales volume of 35 272 units (by our maths, the bakkie thus accounted for some 53 percent of Ford's total local sales). The company says the EcoSport “retained its long-standing leadership of the compact SUV segment despite the introduction of a raft of new competitors”, with 7 255 units sold.

And exports? Well, as many as 45 790 Ranger units produced at Ford’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria were exported in 2020, giving the bakkie the title of leading light commercial vehicle export for the year. November 2020 saw the highest monthly export volume of 6 920 units, followed by September (6 681) and March (6 353).

“Last year will certainly go down as one of the most challenging in history, and it impacted the automotive industry particularly hard, especially during the hard lockdown during which new vehicle sales almost ground to a halt, followed by the economic fall-out over the ensuing months,” said Neale Hill, managing direct at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

“This was reflected in the 29,1-percent decline in total market sales compared to 2019. However, the market showed remarkable resilience and began a rapid recovery as soon as the lockdown restrictions were eased, and we recorded our highest volumes for the Ford Ranger in September, October and November,” Hill pointed out.

“There’s no doubt that the combination of South Africa’s overburdened economy and the ongoing effects of COVID-19 will hamper domestic sales for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, we are confident that the introduction of the Ranger XL Sport will bring new customers into our Ford dealerships, and we have a number of other exciting new models planned for the year.

Hill described the Ranger as “one of South Africa’s most important and successful export programmes”, adding that the majority of these vehicles are destined for Europe, where it is the “segment leader”.

“This is a proud testament to Ford’s commitment to South Africa through ongoing investment and job creation.”