Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is expanding its operations at the Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth as part of a wide-ranging investment in its two local plants announced late last year.

"We are delighted to confirm that, as part of the ZAR3bn (US$254m) investment announced in November 2017, we are expanding both the capability and capacity of the Struandale engine plant for our current and future engine programmes," said Jacques Brent, president of Ford Middle East and Africa.

"The investment includes the installation of a sophisticated new assembly line for an all-new diesel engine programme that will, most notably, power the exciting new Ranger Raptor when it is launched in 2019," Brent added.

"At the same time, we are boosting capacity for the current Duratorq TDCi engine that is used in the Ranger and Everest with new derivatives and additional European markets being introduced for the local operations," he added.

The new diesel engine assembly hall is located in a totally revamped 3,868 sq m section of the plant.

Eight derivatives of the new engine will be assembled when production officially commences in the fourth quarter of 2018. The new assembly line has an installed capacity of 120,000 engines a year.

The component machining and assembly lines for the Duratorq TDCi diesel engine, which has been produced locally since 2011, are also being expanded.

"Our upgrades for the Duratorq TDCi program adds incremental volumes with 22 new four-cylinder engine derivatives to be exported to European markets, including for use in front-wheel drive models," Brent said.

"This introduces three significant new customers for the Struandale engine plant – Italy, Turkey and Russia."

Ultimately, Struandale will become home to all Duratorq TDCi engine component machining for the Ranger, Everest and Transit along with expanded engine assembly in conjunction with current operations at Ford plants in Thailand and Argentina.

"This places our South African business in a central role within the global Ford network and reaffirms our commitment to developing the automotive industry within the local market, and in the broader Middle East and Africa region," Brent added.

With the additional 2.2-litre engine derivatives officially coming on line in the fourth quarter of 2018, Struandale will be assembling 56 variants of the Duratorq TDCi engine.

Installed capacity is set to increase from the current 254,000 machined component sets (cylinder head, block and crankshaft) to 280,000 while assembly capacity will grow from 115,000 to 130,000 engines a year.

To accommodate the significant production expansion for the two engine programmes, a new warehouse was built. The new 5,418 sq m facility was designed to house all the required parts, components and tools on site to maximise production efficiency for the two engine programmes.