Silverton, Gauteng - Ford has announced a R2.5-billion investment in its South African plant to produce the new Everest SUV.

Ford currently builds the Ranger bakkie at this Silverton-based factory, in rather high volumes we must add, with an average of about 3000 sold locally and 5000 exported each month.

The body-on-frame Everest SUV will be built alongside the Ranger that it's based on and the plant will be equipped to build over 800 of them a month. Production is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2016, with the first units expected to reach showrooms in the fourth quarter. The investment is expected to create around 1200 new jobs, and some of Silverton's Everests will also be exported into Sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet the big focus will be on Everest’s local success, and thus the SA-built range will expand to include eight derivatives, including more affordable 2.2-litre turbodiesel models.

Driven: Ford Everest is a proper 4x4

Ford SA currently sources the Everest from Thailand and only two rather expensive 3.2-litre turbodiesel models are offered, with prices ranging from R634 900 to R698 900. The 2.2-litre versions will prove crucial in expanding the reach, and ultimate mass success, of the SUV, especially with Toyota having priced its new Fortuner between R429 400 and R633 400. The previous Fortuner enjoyed a segment market share of around 50 percent and while the new one is certainly a big improvement over its predecessor, the locally-made Everest is sure to prove the Fortuner's biggest challenge to date.

"By producing the Everest in South Africa, we will be able to make it more readily available, and in a greater variety of models, for customers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa," said Ford's Jim Farley.

The Silverton plant will be one of just four factories in the worlds that builds Everest SUVs.


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