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The locally assembled Ford Ranger remained one of South Africa’s most popular new vehicles and the country’s leading light commercial vehicle (LCV) export throughout 2020, despite the constrained economic climate, exacerbated by the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 18 846 Ford Rangers were sold in South Africa last year, placing it amongst the overall top three models on the local sales charts – with the number of units retailed recovering rapidly from June 2020 once the nationwide hard-lockdown was eased.

The Ranger recorded its peak sales for the 2020 year in September (2 188 units), October (2 203) and November (2 100) – thus reaffirming its position within the top two LCV contenders in the highly competitive South African market. This success was supported by the mid-year launch of the luxurious limited-edition Ranger Thunder, followed by the Ranger XL Sport in October – the latter adding a significant dose of style and appeal to Ford’s value-oriented Ranger XL line-up.

Additionally, all Ranger XLT, Wildtrak, Thunder and Ranger Raptor models were enhanced with the standard fitment of LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights and LED front foglamps, while the mid-range XLS model received an eight-inch full colour touchscreen audio system, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Ford Everest seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV) also received the superb new LED lighting system as standard on XLT and Limited models. The line-up was increased with the addition of a new XLT 4×4 model powered by the economical 2.0-litre Single Turbo engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.

This all contributed to Ford’s overall sales volume for the year reaching 35 272 units, with another highlight being the EcoSport which retained its long-standing leadership of the compact SUV segment despite the introduction of a raft of new competitors. EcoSport sales for the year ended on 7 255 units.

“Last year will certainly go down as one of the most challenging in history, and it impacted the automotive industry particularly hard, especially during the hard lockdown during which new vehicle sales almost ground to a halt, followed by the economic fall-out over the ensuing months,” says Neale Hill, MD of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA). “This was reflected in the 29.1-percent decline in total market sales compared to 2019.

“However, the market showed remarkable resilience and began a rapid recovery as soon as the lockdown restrictions were eased, and we recorded our highest volumes for the Ford Ranger in September, October and November,” Hill adds.

“There’s no doubt that the combination of South Africa’s overburdened economy and the ongoing effects of COVID-19 will hamper domestic sales for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, we are confident that the introduction of the Ranger XL Sport will bring new customers into our Ford dealerships, and we have a number of other exciting new models planned for the year.

“This is backed up by our class-leading parts pricing for the Ranger, as revealed in the 2020 AA-Kinsey Report, and its winning performance in the 2019 WesBank Fuel Economy Tour, which ensures that the Ranger’s impressively low total cost of ownership will remain a strong selling point this year,” Hill adds.

Leading the LCV exports

A total of 45 790 Ford Rangers, produced at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, were exported in 2020 – once again ranking it amongst the top two exported vehicles overall, and ensuring it remains the leading LCV export. November 2020 saw the highest monthly export volume of 6 920 vehicles, followed by September (6 681) and March (6 353).

“The Ranger remains one of South Africa’s most important and successful export programmes, with the majority of these vehicles destined for Europe where it is the segment leader,” Hill states. “This is a proud testament to Ford’s commitment to South Africa through ongoing investment and job creation.”

Local production of the Ford Ranger for domestic sales and exports supports 4 300 direct jobs at FMCSA and over 50 000 jobs in the total value chain; and contributes over 1-percent to South Africa’s GDP.