The Ford Motor Company is following the footsteps of other car manufacturers and they have recently announced a shutdown of its production plants across the whole world including local plants in South Africa. Particularly the Tshwane Silverton assembly plant and the Port Elizabeth engine plant which have been injected with an R11 billion investment in the past 10 years. The aim is to protect the employee’s health and try to flatten the curve of the pandemic. The Coronavirus outbreak has caused a huge setback to the global economy which now sees slow progression than ever before since late 2019.
The South African Motoring Manufacturing firms account for at least 30.1% of the country’s total production output and contributes 6.9% to the country’s GDP. Ford Southern Africa employs 120 000 workers and it exports 60% of the total production output to 148 countries with Europe being the biggest market. Both Ford plants established in SA produce 168 000 vehicles, 250 000 engines and 280 000 components each year.
The Silverton Plant in Tshwane, Pretoria produces three popular Ford models which are the Ranger Bakkie, Ranger Raptor Bakkie, and Everest SUV. The Ford Ranger is the best-selling bakkie in the European market and the second best-selling bakkie in South Africa behind the Toyota Hilux. The SA economy will be heavily affected by the delays of production that are happening in several manufacturing firms due to the pandemic but the government has announced financial relief schemes for businesses that will struggle to maintain operations.
Following the announcement of the national shutdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mercedes Benz SA has also announced the closure of the East London production plant which produces cars, trucks, and buses. It also exports most of the output to other countries, just like its rival, BMW SA which also has announced the closure of its plants in South Africa. The national shutdown is set to last for 21 days and within that period, most automotive manufacturing plants will be closed.
In the meantime, Ford has announced that it is joining forces with 3M and GE Healthcare to produce respirators, ventilators and face shields to help healthcare workers in treating patients infected with the Coronavirus. This will help to ensure that available medical equipment increases, in order to reduce the death rate caused by COVID-19 and ensure that people can survive and live throughout this pandemic.
The Ford SA plants are expected to shutdown on Friday, 27 March 2020 together with Mercedes Benz SA plants amid the National Shutdown which should start on that day. Ford hopes to continue production on the 20th of April and is currently monitoring the pandemic. It warms our hearts to see all these companies uniting together to fight against this global threat which is affecting everything at an alarming rate.