Ford Motor Co has unveiled its newly upgraded Silverton plant in Pretoria, in which it has invested R15.8-billion, and showcased its next-generation Ranger and Everest vehicles that will be manufactured at the facility.
The investment in the plant has seen the facility expand to 44 000sq m. It boasts more than 400 robots and a new high-tech stamping plant, used to manufacture metal sheets into specific shapes that make up the body of a car.
With robots doing most of the work, with little manual intervention, Ford expects the new plant will produce more than 700 vehicles a day. However, the global semiconductor shortage could market that target difficult to reach, at least in the short term.
The annual capacity of the plant has been increased to 200 000 vehicles from 168 000 previously. It will also be the manufacturer for the Volkswagen Amarok bakkie.
Ford’s investment programme in South Africa builds on the company’s Project Blue Oval renewable energy project, first announced in November 2020, which aligns with the company’s global target of using 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants by 2035 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
The first phase of the renewable energy project will see the construction of solar carports for 4 200 vehicles at the Silverton facility, with hundreds of these already installed.
“Our aim is to achieve ‘island mode’, taking the Silverton assembly plant completely off the grid, becoming entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024,” said Andrea Cavallaro, director operations, Ford International Markets Group. “It will be one of the very first Ford plants anywhere in the world to achieve this status.”
The motor company has also announced an investment of R600-million in the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). This investment supports the launch of a new 3l V6 turbodiesel engine, as well as upgrades to the existing assembly line for the 2l single turbo and 2l bi-turbo diesel engines – all of which will be offered in the recently unveiled next-generation Ranger bakkie.
The launch event also saw the unveiling of the next-generation Ford Ranger and Everest vehicles. Both cars are getting significant upgrades from previous models.
The Ranger’s electric parking brake and “e-shifter” to switch between driving modes bring a more tech feel to the interior and allow greater accessibility and space to drivers.
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The FordPass app will help owners connect with their new vehicle, too, using their smartphones — allowing them to check on all sorts of things on the Ranger and the Everest remotely, including the fuel level, odometer, vehicle location and more.
The new Everest will be available in three grades: Sport, Titanium+ and a new flagship grade, Platinum. – © 2022 NewsCentral Media