JOHANNESBURG -- The South African unit of Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would hire an additional 1,200 workers at one of its assembly plants, an increase of more than 25 percent, to add an extra shift and boost production.
The additional shift, which will increase output to 720 vehicles per day, is the result of a 3 billion rand ($215 million) investment in South Africa that was announced in 2017, aimed at increasing annual production to 168,000 units.
Ford currently employs around 4,300 in South Africa at the plant in the Silverton suburb of Pretoria, which will add the extra shift, and at another site in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
"The third shift will allow us to ramp up our production from the current 506 vehicles assembled per day to a peak of 720 units to satisfy the strong demand from customers in South Africa, as well as for our crucial exports to 148 markets around the world," Ockert Berry, vice president of operations for Ford Middle East and Africa said in a statement.
Ford joins a number of other global automakers in ramping up production on the continent, where growth is expected while trade tensions threaten manufacturing operations elsewhere.
The South African arm Nissan Motor Co. also announced a similarly sized investment this year, increasing output at its local plant by 30,000 units, while BMW production chief Oliver Zipse said earlier this month that it had moved some production from the U.K. as a result of Brexit, and that British plants no longer built South African components.
Around a third of Ford's locally produced vehicles are sold in South Africa and other sub-Saharan African countries, with the rest exported.
The additional shift will start in August and will be focused on the new Ranger, Ranger Raptor and Everest models. The locally-built Ranger is ranked as the top-selling pickup in Europe and leads light commercial vehicle exports.