Bakkie manufacturing milestone for South Africa as Ford builds millionth local Ranger

Ford South Africa has produced its one millionth Ranger at its Silverton plant in Gauteng. Picture: Supplied.

Ford South Africa has produced its one millionth Ranger at its Silverton plant in Gauteng. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 4, 2024


Imagine a straight railway line from Pretoria to the edge of Egypt’s southern border 5,300 kilometres away.

That’s quite a stretch and if you had to line up one million Ford Ranger bakkies bumper to bumper that’s the distance it would cover.

In an impressive milestone for Ford, that’s the number of bakkies their plant in Silverton, Pretoria have produced over the past 24 years of building the Ranger which is now in its third generation.

The Ranger remains one of the most popular options for South African consumers and as part of Ford Global, it’s also helped elevate the country’s automotive industry on the global stage.

“It’s fitting that we celebrate reaching and now rapidly surpassing the one-millionth locally produced Ranger during Ford’s Centenary year in South Africa,” said Neale Hill, president, Ford Motor Company Africa.

“Production of the first-generation Ranger commenced in 2000, which coincided with the official return of Ford Motor Company to South Africa. Both of these events were defining moments in the brand’s local history, and set the tone for Ford’s firm commitment to the country.

“We have continued to invest extensively in our local operations at the Silverton Manufacturing Plant and the Struandale Engine Plant to expand Ranger production for the South African market, and to support crucial exports to more than 100 global markets,” he said.

“At our Centenary event last year, we announced a further investment for the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid EV. This reinforces the significance of our local operations and the contribution of our South African team in the global success of the Ranger program,” Hill said.

The first Ranger rolled off the line in 2000 and in 2008 it was also Ford’s first significant foray into export markets with right and left hand drive vehicles shipped to markets across Africa.

2018 saw the production of the first-ever Ranger Raptor in SA. Picture: Supplied.

In 2011 with more than 100 000 Rangers built in what had been a multi-platform assembly plant for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, production ended and building the second generation Ranger started.

The plant changed to a high-volume flexible single platform with the global export program at its core with the capacity to build 110 000 vehicles a year.

To power the bakkies (and Everest SUVs) there was a large investment in the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha for the component machining and assembly of the 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines.

There were a number of updates over the years and 2019 saw the introduction of the 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo diesel engines. Significantly, it was also the year that the Ranger Raptor first broke cover at the Silverton plant.

Production ended in November 2022 with a total production of 873 751 units produced with around two-thirds making their way to export markets.

The launch of the current generation Ranger followed an almost R16-billion investment from Ford to increase installed capacity to 200 000 vehicles a year, or 720 vehicles per day.

The only Ford-owned and operated Chassis Plant in the world.

“To achieve these unprecedented volumes, we adopted a no-compromise approach. We constructed our first on-site Stamping Plant, built the only Ford-owned and operated Chassis Plant in the world, installed an all-new Body Shop and completely modernised the Ranger assembly line,” said Ockert Berry, vice president Operations, Ford South Africa.

“This gives us full control of the manufacturing process, and with a high level of cutting-edge automation it ensures that we achieve consistent volumes and the highest quality for our customers.

“The Chassis Plant was also significant because it was built in the newly developed Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone adjacent to the Silverton plant.

“This automotive supplier hub was the first of its kind in South Africa, and was the result of a unique public-private partnership between Ford and national, provincial and local governments. It now houses 11 component suppliers that provide parts directly to the Ranger assembly line,” he said.