Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant celebrates production of its 4-millionth engine since the plant opened in 1964 and Damian Adams travelled to the Eastern Cape-based facility to get a sneak peek of its inner workings.
Ford has a rich history in South Africa and one that is inextricably linked to the city of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) – after all, it’s where Ford Motor Company of South Africa was founded in 1923.
Some 41 years later, Henry Ford II officially opened the Struandale Engine Plant. With an initial investment of R8 million at the time, it positioned Ford in South Africa to manufacture engines locally and has played a central role in Ford’s manufacturing and export operations since.
At the end of August 2023, the Struandale plant produced its four-millionth engine – a 2,0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbodiesel engine that will be installed in a new Ranger bakkie at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.
The Ranger is produced for domestic sales and exports to more than 100 global markets, with an installed capacity for producing up to 200 000 vehicles per year. This makes Ranger one of South Africa’s leading vehicle exports, with 38 835 vehicles exported between January and August 2023 – all powered by engines supplied by the Struandale plant.
The Struandale facility also produces the 2,2-litre and 3,2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines that were introduced in 2011. These engines were used in the previous Ranger family and are now exported as powerplants for the Ford Transit. The new 3,0-litre V6 diesel mill that powers the range-topping models in the new Ranger line-up, commenced production in 2022 following a R600 million investment.
“The assembly line that produces the V6 for the new Ranger still assembles our existing Duratorq TDCi engines, making it the only facility of its kind in the Ford world that produces both V-configuration and in-line engines, as well as a combination of four, five and six-cylinder units, all on a single line,” says Shawn Govender, plant manager of the Struandale Engine Plant.
“The combined assembly line was essential to make optimal use of our facilities and contain the total investment required, and to ensure that we are competitive from a cost-per-unit perspective,” Govender says. “This was an extremely complex challenge for our team, but they delivered on all our ambitious targets. The success and huge demand for the 3,0-litre is testament to our unwavering focus on producing engines of the highest quality for our customers, and no doubt contributed to it being selected as SA Car of the Year for 2023.”
Relying on a flexible production format, with scheduled batches of the two different engine programs being assembled, the line incorporates 40 stations that are common to both platforms and a further 25 stations that are unique to the V6 diesel. The total installed capacity for this line is 130 000 engines per year.
Our editor attended the celebration event at the plant and got hands-on at the assembly line in assisting with the assembly of the 3,0-litre ‘Lion’ turbodiesel V6, stay tuned for the full story!