Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) executives are confident their production facilities will get the nod to produce two model ranges for export to the UK within a year.

They are the locally-engineered and developed Bantam half-ton pickup range - based on a Fiesta platform - and another, already on sale in Europe, which they will not disclose at this stage.

The move will allow the company to gain further export credits under South Africa's Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), which allow it to fully import many of the models it currently markets. Only the Ranger one ton pickup and the older generation Fiesta are currently produced by its local plants and this, with planned run out of certain Mazda models, has left a gap in existing capacity.

FMCSA has been lobbying its parent company for some time to be given the opportunity to produce vehicles locally for its international supply chain and Ford insiders say they have received the nod in preference to a new facility, potentially planned for Eastern Europe.

This means Ford will join DaimlerChrysler, BMW and Toyota in using a South African manufacturing base for world markets. FMCSA currently manufacturers 1,3 and 1,6 RoCam engines for export.

The Bantam, launched in South Africa this week, is available locally in seven derivatives using 1,3, 1,6 petrol and 1,8 diesel engines. They feature high levels of original equipment for the sector and have been fully engineered for left hand drive configuration as well as the current right hand drive.

It is understood the plan will involve a substantial capital injection for the South African operation to enable it to modernise existing plant.