Roy Cokayne

The production capacity of the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s engine plant in Struandale in Port Elizabeth is to be increased to cater for new demand from the North American market for Duratorq TDCi diesel engines.

Jeff Nemeth, Ford SA’s president and chief executive, said yesterday that the expansion of the Duratorq TDCi production capacity for North America was an exceptionally proud and important achievement for the local company because it was the first time it would be exporting engines to the US.

The locally produced 3.2 litre Duratorq 5-cylinder turbodiesel engine, which was recently introduced in the new Ford Ranger, will be used in the Transit van when it joins Ford’s North American product line-up for the first time next year. The Transit is Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle.

Nemeth said the new demand for the engine from the North American market followed the extremely successful launch of the new Ranger and would increase the annual production capacity of the Duratorq TDCi engine by more than 31 000 engines.

Rella Bernardes, a Ford SA spokeswoman, said the capacity of the engine plant had been increased by installing a few new machines and upgrading the assembly line.

Bernardes said this would increase the annual capacity of the engine plant from 75 000 engines, plus 220 000 machine component sets, to 106 000 engines. Ford SA declined to quantify the cost involved in increasing the plant’s capacity.

Ford SA launched a R3.4 billion investment programme in 2008, with the investment split between its vehicle assembly plant and its Port Elizabeth engine plant.

The upgraded and expanded engine plant started production of the latest generation Puma diesel engine last year.

Bernardes said the expansion of the engine plant’s capacity would not create any new jobs at this stage.

She said the additional newly installed capacity at the plant would be available from the middle of next year.

Satya Banda, plant manager of the Struandale engine plant, said the addition of the Duratorq TDCi engine production for North America was in line with its focus on leveraging existing capacity and offering global flexibility as part of the “One Ford” strategy.

Banda said the installation of the additional equipment to the current machining and assembly lines in the plant would not affect its current production and global engine export programme.