Ford’s power woes continue at Silverton plant

Ford Motor Company in Silverton is losing 720 units a day, or over R500 million, as widespread power losses continue.

23 Ford Power1

Up until now there has been no indication when the plant will be up and running after overhead power lines feeding large parts of Pretoria collapsed and fell on the N4 highway on April 10, resulting in a power outage affecting large parts of Pretoria East.

Neale Hill (President of Ford Motor Company Africa), said in a local television interview that the knock-on effect could prevent the company from reaching its optimal production volumes for months to come.

Exports of the new Ford Ranger will be affected by the power problems in Pretoria.

“Although we have a huge solar power network, it only provides about a quarter of our electricity needs. Certain parts of the manufacturing process require a high-power output at a constant rate to function.

“The outage has also had an impact on our suppliers of whom 15 are located next to our plant in the Tshwane Special Automotive Economic Zone. Other suppliers elsewhere in the country are also affected as we could experience a temporary interruption in the delivery of parts,” he says.

As a result of the incident, all three shifts at the Silverton Plant are currently suspended affecting 5 500 employees and approximately 60 000 jobs across Ford’s local supplier network in producing the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok bakkies in Silverton.

Ford invested over a billion USD in the new manufacturing plant, which exports bakkies to over 100 markets worldwide. When the plant is at full capacity it will be the biggest plant of its kind manufacturing the Ford Ranger in the world.

Neale Hill, President of Ford Motor Company Africa.

When questioned about Ford reconsidering its position in South Africa, Neale answered that not with the kind of money that Ford has invested and that Ford is committed to the country. “It is, however, getting more difficult doing business in South Africa,” he said during the interview.

Neale said obstacles like load-shedding, and issues surrounding the ports and rail infrastructure make it difficult to sell South Arica as an investment destination.

The initial assessment by the City of Tshwane’s energy and electricity team found that at least seven powerline structures had collapsed and were badly damaged.

A Ford spokesperson said the company was working with both the City of Tshwane and Eskom to resolve the issue, but as yet there is no indication of when power will be fully restored to the facilities.

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