29 November 2010
US ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips, visiting Ford’s engine plant outside Port Elizabeth, praised the workers for the part they played in securing an international engine contract, describing the US carmaker’s local arm as a “true global player”.
Gips and Bill Lehmberg, economic officer at the US Consulate General in Cape Town, visited the plant recently in order to gain first-hand insight into the massive investment in the facility in the build-up to the production of the new-generation Puma diesel engine.
Important investment in SA
In a statement last week, Ford said it was investing more than R3-billion in the Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth for the Puma engine, as well as in the Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria for the production of the new-generation Ranger compact pick-up – with most of the capacity destined for export markets when the projects came on line in 2011.
“Ford has made an important investment in South Africa, and as my role is to promote more investment and trade between our two countries, I wanted to see the progress first hand,” Gips said. “It has been a wonderful experience to witness the transformation of the Struandale engine plant.
“The thing that struck me most during our tour of the plant is that this is a truly global economy. You see machines made in Germany, engineers from America and India, cast-iron components from Brazil, all put together as part of this global product that is the new Puma engine.”
Guaranteeing Ford’s future
Gips also congratulated the Struandale engine plant team on the effort they had put into winning the contract for the high-tech new Puma engine, having competed against numerous other top-ranked plants around the world.
“It’s clear that it took a remarkable effort and commitment to win the Puma contract for the Struandale engine plant and, importantly, this has guaranteed Ford’s future in this region,” Gips said.
“It really is a win-win situation for South Africa and the US that Ford is able to produce the engine and components here and, in doing so, create jobs and become a true global player.”
The Puma engine programme will see the Port Elizabeth facility producing 220 000 component sets (engine head, block and crankshaft) annually as of April 2011, 75 000 of which will be used for the assembly of complete engines for shipping to Silverton for the new Ranger, beginning in June 2011.
The Struandale engine plant enjoys the unique privilege of being the sole source of machined components for the new generation Ranger, and shares the engine assembly volume for the Puma programme.
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