For the first time in its history, a bakkie has won the prestigious South African Car of the Year award, with the accolade going to the Ford Ranger.
The award is particularly welcomed in Gauteng, following the crucial investment Ford has made into boosting the country’s automotive sector, particularly in the City of Tshwane where Ford has an extensive plant in Silverton and a large investment in the nearby Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ).
TASEZ CEO Dr Bheka Zulu congratulated the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa on its win. “We are proud to be able to say that the 2023 Car of the Year is produced by a company within TASEZ.”
The Gauteng MEC for economic development, Tasneem Motara, echoed his sentiment, adding that the quality of the product as well as the innovation that had gone into it augured well for the future of the automotive sector.
From an overall investment of R16-billion in 2021, Ford ploughed some R3.4-billion into TASEZ to build a factory to manufacture the Ranger chassis as well as to support suppliers of Ford components.
“The Ford Ranger’s triumph represents a milestone for the industry, setting a new benchmark, and symbolising a noteworthy accomplishment for one of South Africa’s primary export products,” the chairperson of the 2023 competition, Mabuyane Mabuza, noted at the announcement on 1 June 2023.
Congratulating all the finalists, Dr Zulu stressed the importance the sector played in the country’s economic growth, particularly in Gauteng. “The South African automotive industry is the fifth largest exporting sector out of more than 100 sectors and accounts for 18,7% of the country’s manufacturing output.”
South Africa’s automotive sector is one of the country’s largest economic sectors, contributing 4,3% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) – 2,4% manufacturing and 1,9% retail, according to figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).
Motara added that as the leading auto manufacturing hub in the country, “we’re committed to developing the sector through our support for the implementation of the South African Automotive Master Plan 2035 (SAAM) and through our Special Economic Zones”.
The SAAM’s long-term aim is to see production grow to 1.4 million vehicles a year by 2035, and the use of local content rise to 60%. “This growth will play an important role in tackling the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality,” Motara said.
The Car of the Year competition is held by the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists, with the 2023 edition seeing 21 finalists vying for overall honours.