THE first consignment of Ford engines for the North American market has been shipped from the Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth. The new Power Stroke 3.2-litre diesel engines were shipped last month and will be one of three engines available for the North American Transit, which is assembled in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Transit will eventually replace the current Ford E-series commercial family van in North America.
Struandale engine plant manager Satya Banda said yesterday that despite the ongoing strike action in the automotive industry, Ford Motor Company SA (FMCSA) planned to export a second consignment of Transit engines later this month.
"We are expected to build 31000 engines a year. We sent several batches of trial and pre- production engines for testing. In addition to the Transit engines, we also export components to other Ford plants across the world."
The Struandale engine plant employs about 600 hourly and salaried workers.
FMCSA president and chief executive Jeff Nemeth said although the strike in the automotive industry was posing "a real challenge", FMCSA had stocked up before the strike season started.
FMCSA, which imports 35% of its components, was one of the few vehicle manufacturers in the country that could maintain minimal production, up until this week.
Addressing dealers, representatives of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the business chamber yesterday, Nemeth said for every R1-million extra turnover three permanent jobs were created.
"This would be equal to the sale of two of our high-end bakkies. We need to keep growing our export business and attract investment within a stable business development environment. The knock-on effect of the three permanent jobs equates to between eight to ten additional jobs. Therefore it is important for the auto industry to be successful in the Eastern Cape."
FMCSA vice president of marketing, sales and services Mark Kaufman said the October vehicle sales were expected to soften.
"The September sales figures were affected by industrial action but despite this, FMCSA had an all-time record market share at 12.2% and the highest Ford volume since September 2005. Ford also had three vehicles in the top 10 car lines (Figo, Fiesta and EcoSport)," Kaufman said.