African expansion: Ford's new models revealed

Ferdi de Vos
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 NEXT FOCUS RS FOR SA: The new Focus RS, one of the stars of Ford's Go Further show in Johannesburg, is set to arrive locally in 2016. Image: QuickPic ~ Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Ford held its second annual Go Further Africa event at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg earlier in August 2015.

It was a grandiose affair, worthy of a brand that has outperformed the market for over two years and in the process grown its local market share to a new high of over 16%.

With sales in South Africa up by over 24% year-on-year and more than 12% year to date, the momentum is building and there’s no marking time for the Blue Oval.

Besides revealing eight new models for African markets and highlighting a range of corporate social investment initiatives, it detailed investment into a second African vehicle assembly plant, in Nigeria.

RANGER FOR NIGERIA

As part of its expansion plans into the Middle East region and Africa, Ford had partnered with dealer group Coscharis Motors on the assembly project in Ikeja, Lagos state, 750km south-west of the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The assembly of Rangers, using body parts and components imported from South Africa in semi-knockdown (SKD) form, will create about 180 jobs directly and indirectly, and the plant has the capacity to assemble up to 5000 units per year.

Further to the announcement Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Sub-Saharan Africa, said the 250 000th Ranger was produced in its Silverton facility in August 2015.

Besides production for the South African market Rangers produced in Pretoria are exported to 148 countries, while engines from its Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth are also exported.
Nemeth said Nigeria is a priority market in Africa and therefore an assembly plant, as well as a broader retail network, will allow the automaker to better serve its customers.

To support this Ford is expanding its footprint of Quick Lane Tyre and Auto Centres across the African region, and will have 22 facilities in operation by the end of 2017.

MORE FROM FORD

Nemeth stated in his address at the function: "As much as Ford is a car company, it is also a people company. Therefore our investment in in the community across Africa through Africa – through various health, education and mobility projects – is as fundamental to the company’s business as producing vehicles."

He said Go Further is a brand promise. "The array of new products, high-tech innovations and solutions are proof of how Ford is indeed going further and creating an exciting new world.”

In line with its theme "Innovation and Mobility", Ford is expanding its multi-modal approach to urban mobility. One such innovation is the Mode:Pro eBike, a customisable electric bike experiment making its debut in Africa.

Other examples are the Ford X-Car social innovation action partnership (SIAP) that takes mobility to the next level by supporting public-private partnerships using vehicles as transportation backbone to deliver goods and services to under-served communities.

Ford is also working with World Vision in Africa to build a learning community to create value-added opportunities such as community health programs, medicine and vaccine delivery, as well as the economic empowerment of women.

Also, Ford supports Riders for Health, an organisation that manages and maintains fleets that transport healthcare workers to patients who need help.

NEW MODELS FOR SA

The new Focus RS was the undisputed star of the 2015 Go Further Africa event. The all-wheel drive RS, powered by a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine delivering 257kW/440Nm, will make its local debut in 2016.

Also of interest was the Mustang Cabriolet which was, surprisingly enough, shown in right-hand drive form. Whether this means that it will be launched with the fastback before the end of 2015, or whether it is just a pre-production unit being used for local testing, remains to be seen.

The updated Ranger, to be launched imminently, was also showcased, as well as the brand-new Everest, which will follow the Ranger here before year end.

The new Ford Figo, also due here in the fourth quarter of 2015, also made an appearance, as well the B-Max (launched in August) and the new Ford Edge SUV, to be made available in selected Sub-Saharan Africa markets in 2016.