Ford to Build $1.6B Plant in Mexico; Invest $170M in Updates in South Africa

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Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. today announced two major expansions: an investment of $1.6 billion to build a new small car plant in Mexico, along with spending $170 million to expand operations at its assembly plant in South Africa.

Ford will begin construction in the summer on a manufacturing site in the San Luis Potosi state, located in central Mexico. The new plant will create 2,800 additional jobs by 2020. The automaker says specific vehicles being produced at the new facility will be announced at a later date.

Mexico is Ford’s fourth largest vehicle manufacturing site for global customers — behind the U.S., China, and Germany. The automaker’s Mexican operations also offer a low cost springboard into Central America and South America, given higher tariffs there that often target U.S.-made goods.

Ford also will expand its operations in South Africa at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, near Johannesburg, to produce the Everest and the new Ranger that was launched at the end of 2015.

“The all-new Everest has been extremely well received since it was launched in September last year, with demand far outstripping supply,” says Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of the sub-Saharan Africa region at Ford. “This crucial investment will enable us to increase volumes and expand the Everest range to eight derivatives across a broader price range.”

Nemeth says the investment will create approximately 1,200 new jobs at Ford South Africa and within the South African supplier network.

He says part of the investment has been directed towards the production of the new Ranger truck, which is already running at maximum capacity at the Silverton Assembly Plant. The Ford Ranger is exported to 148 countries in Africa, Middle East, and Europe.

The Ford Everest SUV is currently imported from Thailand, and limited engine and transmission options are offered to South African customers.

Nemeth says in recent years, Africa has emerged as an increasingly important region for Ford, with continued investment and growth. In 2015, Ford sold nearly 78,500 passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in South Africa, the highest number on record.

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