By Margarita Snegireva. Ford Motor Co is going to expand its South African operations investing 1.5 billion rand (USD 210 million) in the production of the company's next-generation pickup truck and Puma diesel engine.
Ford said in a statement that the investment will start in 2009 and be split between its engine facility in the eastern port city of Port Elizabeth and its assembly plant in Pretoria , the South African capital.
In Africa Ford's market presence has traditionally been strongest in South Africa and neighboring countries, with only trucks being sold elsewhere on the continent. Ford in South Africa began by importing kits from Canada to be assembled at its Port Elizabeth facility. Later Ford sourced its models from the UK and Australia, with local versions of the Ford Cortina including the XR6, with a 3.0 V6 engine, and a Cortina 'bakkie' or pick-up, which was exported to the UK. In the mid-1980s Ford merged with a rival company, owned by Anglo American, to form the South African Motor Corporation (Samcor).
Following international condemnation of apartheid, Ford divested from South Africa in 1988, and sold its stake in Samcor, although it licensed the use of its brand name to the company. Samcor began to assemble Mazdas as well, which affected its product line-up, which saw the European Fords like the Escort and Sierra replaced by the Mazda-based Laser and Telstar. Ford bought a 45 per cent stake in Samcor following the demise of apartheid in 1994, and this later became, once again, a wholly owned subsidiary, the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. Ford now sells a local sedan version of the Fiesta (also built in India and Mexico), and the Focus and Mondeo Europe. The Falcon model from Australia was also sold in South Africa, but was dropped in 2003.