Ford Motor Company of South Africa, established in 1923 in Port Elizabeth, marked a significant milestone as its Struandale Engine Plant, celebrating manufacturing 4 000 000 engines at the end of August.
The 4 000 000th engine, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel, is destined to power the latest Ranger pickup at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria. With a production capacity of up to 200 000 vehicles per year, the Ranger is a key export vehicle, with 45 793 units exported between January and September 2023, all equipped with engines from the Struandale plant.
This momentous achievement also coincides with the 300 000th 2.0L single-turbo/bi-turbo diesel engine produced at Struandale since the programme’s launch in 2018. Recognised for its remarkable performance, reliability and fuel economy, the single-turbo variant helped the Ranger secure a class win in the 2019 WesBank Fuel Economy Tour. In 2022, the 2.0-litre engines received updates for the new Ranger, enhancing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) for improved comfort and refinement.
The Struandale Engine Plant is not limited to producing the 2.0-litre engines. It also manufactures the 2.2L and 3.2L Duratorq TDCi engines introduced in 2011, and the new 3.0L V6 diesel engine powering the top-tier models in the latest Ranger lineup.
Ockert Berry, vice-president operations of Ford South Africa, comments, “The Struandale Engine Plant has played a pivotal role in Ford’s development and growth over the past 59 years, particularly for our export operations. Achieving 4 000 000 engines in total, along with the assembly of 300 000 2.0L single-turbo and bi-turbo diesel engines, are remarkable milestones.”
Berry adds, “Our plant in Gqeberha remains a cornerstone of the automotive industry in Nelson Mandela Bay and is a vital part of our local manufacturing operations. Our significant investments in this facility, the Silverton Assembly Plant, and our suppliers in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone for the new Ranger demonstrate Ford’s commitment to South Africa, supporting job creation and economic development.”
Struandale’s production capacity reaches 720 vehicles per day, operating three shifts, to meet the global demand for the Ranger. In August, it twice exceeded its targets.
Since 1964, the Struandale plant has manufactured 11 different engine types. These included the 1.7L and 2.0L V4 engines, the beloved Essex V6, and the 1.3L and 1.6L Kent four-cylinder engines.
One of its most successful programmes was the component machining and assembly of the renowned RoCam engine, which started with the 1.6-litre version in 1998. In 1999, the Struandale plant was appointed as the sole global manufacturer of the 1.3L RoCam engine, contributing to a total production of 1 346 919 units when the programme concluded in 2012. RoCam engines powered several popular South African-built models, such as the Fiesta, Ikon and Bantam. They were also exported to various countries across the world.
Notably, the 1 000 000th engine milestone was reached in 1987, followed by the 2 000 000th unit in 2006. Substantial investments and expanded production accelerated the plant’s output, reaching 3 000 000 engines in 2014. The 4 000 000th engine rolled out of the Struandale Engine Plant in August 2023.
Shawn Govender, plant manager of the Struandale engine plant, emphasises innovation and flexibility in production. Its production approach makes the Struandale plant unique globally as it produces both V-configuration and in-line engines, as well as four, five, and six-cylinder units, all on a single line. The combined assembly line optimises facility use and keeps costs per unit competitive.
Govender notes, “Our emphasis on quality and continuous improvement has resulted in the success and high demand for the 3.0L V6 diesel engine in the new Ranger, which contributed to its selection as the 2023 SA Car of the Year.”
The Struandale plant also machines cylinder heads, cylinder blocks, and crankshafts for the Duratorq TDCi engines.
The plant currently employs around 850 individuals, contributing to the approximately 5 500 people employed by Ford South Africa. This is nearly double the 2 700 jobs provided in 1964.
Last year, the plant received accolades as the 2022 Exporter of the Year and the Best Exporter OEM from Exporters Eastern Cape, recognising the team’s dedication, investment, quality commitment and innovation.
Govender highlights the emphasis on job creation, skills development, and community support, with various learnership, apprenticeship, and experiential trainee programmes. The plant also provides upliftment and empowerment opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty through an array of corporate social responsibility projects.