Automotive industry watchers in the U.S. may be aware of the labor unrest situation in South Africa but with an arms-length concern over its ramifications in regard to global markets. South Africa is one of the most advanced economies on the continent, with a significant manufacturing sector. Although most of its industrial output is exported to the rest of the continent (Europe, the Middle East, and Asia), some of its output does come to the U.S. Of specific interest to van enthusiasts, South Africa is the source of the 2015 Ford Transit van’s optional 3.2L I-5 diesel engine.
In addition to a strike by the NUMSA metalworkers union, which caused General Motors to temporarily halt production in the country, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SIEFSA) told Reuters that the regional chief of Ford told them he was under pressure from top management at the company to pull the company’s operations out of South Africa. However, Ford’s president of Middle East and Africa operations, Jim Benintende, countered SIEFSA’s claim, saying “We have a long-term commitment to South Africa…and we’re making news next week about future products.
Ford Trucks U.S. Public Relations Manager Mike Levine said in an emailed statement, “Some of our key suppliers are represented by NUMSA, however, Ford is not impacted at this point. We hope amicable agreements can be reached as soon as possible.”
Ford’s Struandale engine plant, which builds the 3.2L Power Stroke I-5 diesel available in the Transit, is located in Port Elizabeth, an industrial city 470 miles east of Cape Town on South Africa’s southern coast.
Source: Ford, Reuters