Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa says its success with the local manufacture and export of the Ranger “just proves what we are capable of”.

The company said it believed the expansion of “already thriving export programmes” for locally built vehicles held “immense potential for job creation, and an opportunity for long-term sustainability of the sector”.

Neale Hill, managing director for the Blue Oval brand in the southern and sub-Saharan Africa region, said “where some might see obstacles, others see opportunities”.

“While domestic vehicle sales are an essential component of business for us, I believe that the real success and sustainability of the original equipment manufacturing sector as a whole, relies on expansion of South Africa’s global export opportunities,” Hill said.

“Over the past two years, we have invested over R3-billion to expand the production capacities of our Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria and our Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth, to meet the growing international demand for our Ford Ranger. We have carefully and strategically mapped our revenue pipeline to target exports and drive export-oriented growth.”

Currently, Ford SA says two-thirds of its vehicle production is exported to 148 global markets.

“Around 400 vehicles leave our Silverton plant each day, destined for local dealers or shipment around the world via 15 to 20 vessels a month. Up until recently, all incoming and outbound Ford vehicles were shipped through Durban harbour’s ‘Roll On Roll Off’ terminal. However, this facility has become increasingly congested, so we have adopted a multi-port strategy. We now also ship Rangers to European markets through Port Elizabeth’s harbour, to support our increased export volumes, in order to improve efficiencies and shorten delivery times.”

Ranger export volumes reached an all-time annual high of 68 364 units in 2018. The bulk of these, says Ford, were destined for EU markets, with Ford of Europe notching up a final tally of 51 500 sales in 20 markets.

“Ranger just proves what we – as Ford, and the OEM sector – are capable of. Where some might see obstacles, others see opportunities. Admittedly we’ve got a long way to go before we’re able to fully realise the vision we have for this industry, and the country. But I do believe with good leadership and continued expansion of our export programmes, we’re on an exciting trajectory – for both business and the economy at large.”