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Ford South Africa Celebrates Millionth Ranger Produced at Silverton Manufacturing Plant

One million Rangers produced in South Africa between 2000 and 2024 for the domestic market and export around the world.

A million of anything is a huge number. Now imagine one million Ford Rangers being lined up bumper-to-bumper, starting at Ford South Africa’s Silverton Manufacturing Plant in Pretoria and heading due north through Africa. Ford’s segment-defining pick-ups, or bakkies in South African vernacular, would reach all the way to Egypt’s southern border – some 5,300 km away.

That provides a rather mind-boggling visual representation of Ford’s latest milestone in the local production of the Ford Ranger over the past 24 years, as the Silverton plant celebrates the one-millionth unit having recently come off its modern assembly line.

The Ranger’s legacy in South Africa encompasses three generations, with a tale of constant evolution and innovation of this trusted and much-loved nameplate that has become a cornerstone of Ford’s local line-up and one of the country’s most popular vehicles. It has racked up an impressively long list of awards along the way, and made an incalculable and indelible impact on businesses, communities, and individuals, while helping elevate South Africa’s automotive industry onto 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,” says 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,” Hill says.

“At our Centenary event last year, we were delighted to announce a further investment for the exciting new Ranger Plug-in Hybrid EV as the latest chapter in this remarkable story. 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 says.

Ford Ranger 2000-2011

Three Generations Spanning 24 Years

The first-generation Ranger was produced between 2000 and 2011, which included Ford South Africa’s first significant foray into export markets which commenced in 2008, with right-hand drive and left-hand drive models shipped from the Silverton Manufacturing Plant to markets across Africa. Production ended in late 2011 with more than 100,000 Rangers manufactured in what had been a multi-platform assembly facility, producing both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

As Ford’s first global pick-up truck, the second-generation Ranger was a true game-changer – both for the nature of the company’s local operations, and for the industry as a truly trend-setting vehicle with all-new levels of performance, space, comfort, safety, technology, and capability.

Production at the Silverton plant transitioned to a high-volume flexible single platform for the 2011 Ranger, with the global export program at its core, and an initial installed capacity pegged at 110,000 vehicles per year. This revolutionary new model also led to significant investments in the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha for the component machining and assembly of the 2.2L and 3.2L Duratorq TDCi engines.

Ford Ranger 2011-2022

Multiple evolutions of this model range followed over the years, including further advances in technology, safety, and refinement that placed this highly capable and tough-as-nails workhorse on a par with luxury passenger cars. The 2019 addition of the powerful but efficient 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo diesel engines, and the arrival of the groundbreaking first-ever Ranger Raptor, raised the ante even further. Accordingly, it was no surprise that the venerable pick-up had been elevated to top-selling status in the new vehicle sales charts in South Africa, and the versatile Ranger Double Cab became the default choice for a wide range of customers.

The second-generation Ranger chapter drew to a close in November 2022 with a total of 873,751 units produced in South Africa – with around two-thirds making their way to export markets.

The launch of the third and current-generation Ranger at the end of 2022 followed a massive investment and expansion program for the Silverton Manufacturing Plant to increase installed capacity to 200,000 vehicles per year – or 720 vehicles per day, which is the highest volume of any vehicle manufacturer in South Africa.

“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 modernized the Ranger assembly line,” says Ockert Berry, vice president Operations, Ford South Africa. “This gave us full control of the manufacturing process, and with a high level of cutting-edge automation it ensured that we achieve consistent volumes and the highest quality for our customers.

Ford Ranger 2019

“The Chassis Plant was also very significant in that it was built in the newly developed Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone adjacent to the Silverton plant,” Berry says. “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 government. It now houses 11 component suppliers that provide parts directly to the Ranger assembly line.”

Having great products and facilities are essential ingredients for success, but it’s the people that make it happen. “We currently employ around 5,200 people, and support approximately 60,000 jobs in the total value chain,” Berry says. “Many of our employees and those at supplier companies in the Tshwane Automotive SEZ come from the communities surrounding the Silverton plant. As a result, we are a major contributor to the economic development and empowerment of this region.

“We are also exceptionally proud that we have a large number of employees with decades of service, along with numerous multi-generational families that have been and remain part of the Ford family at both the Silverton and Struandale plants,” Berry says. “Many of these dedicated generations of family members have only ever worked at Ford and play an important role in building the vibrant culture and pride, and the commitment to excellence, that permeates throughout the company.”

Previous Generation Ford Ranger Raptor

Winning Ways

The Ford Ranger revolutionized the pick-up, or bakkie, market in so many ways over the years, bringing entirely new levels of car-like comfort and features, dependable all-round capability, and trusted durability to the game.

Global praise was heaped on the second-generation Ranger, and it received the acclaimed International Pick-up Award in 2013 from the International Van of the Year jury. Ranger repeated the feat in 2020 with the updated version of this model, and then the all-new Ranger took the prized title once again in 2023 following its global launch.

Notably, the new Ranger won the South African Car of the Year title in 2023, becoming the first pick-up to win the local motoring industry’s most revered award. And it was selected as the Best 4x4 & Pick-up in the Women’s World Car of the Year competition.

Ford’s trophy cabinet is stacked with a multitude of other major awards for the Ranger, including being selected as CAR Magazine’s Best Double Cab Bakkie in its prestigious Top 12 Best Buys awards every single year since 2011 – an impressive record! Ranger was also CAR Magazine’s Bakkie Shootout winner in 2021.

The Star Readers’ Choice Awards placed Ranger as the Best Bakkie Brand in 2021, and it has consistently been a leading contender and finalist in the Double Cab segment of the annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards.

Ford Ranger Raptor (Current)

And, most recently in May 2024, it was announced that Ranger was awarded the South African Used Car of the Year title in the AutoTrader Dealer Awards, signifying the continued impact and success of Ford’s most popular model amongst customers of new and pre-owned models.

Ford South Africa has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation, solidifying its position as a leader in the automotive industry. The one-millionth Ranger is not just a milestone but a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in its production. Here's to many more years of success and to the next million Rangers that will drive Ford and South Africa to even greater heights.

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