Ford South Africa will have a new leader from April 1 as Casper Kruger leaves Toyota SA to fill the shoes of Jeff Nemeth, who is returning to the US.
However, Ford SA insists that this reshuffle has nothing to do with the Kuga crisis that made headlines in December and January, and in which over 40 1.6-litre Kuga SUVs have caught fire, leading Ford issue a recall on January 16. Nemeth will take on a new position at Ford in the US when he returns to his home country in June, after overseeing the transition and following the completion of his son's school year in South Africa.
In his role as Managing Director, Kruger will oversee the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region. Kruger leaves Toyota SA, where he has served as the vice president of vehicle sales and dealer network since 2014, after holding a similar position at the Hino truck division in the five years prior to that. Kruger is no stranger to the Ford team, however, having served as national sales and brand manager between 2007 and 2009.
Nemeth’s legacy at the company will no doubt be tainted by the recent Kuga crisis, in which he was criticised for his handling of the matter and particularly for the company's denial of any link to the Reshall Jimmy death in 2015.
Yet Nemeth has also led the company through something of a golden era. Not only has Ford SA’s market share doubled during his seven-year tenure, but Nemeth also oversaw the launch of Ford’s massive export programme for the Ranger, which has seen the Silverton assembly plant and Struandale engine factory running at record production capacities.