(Updates share price in final paragraph.)
June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. plans to ship its Ranger pickup to 148 countries from South Africa under a $500 million export program, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said.
Ford over the past two years has expanded its assembly plant in Pretoria, the nation’s capital, to an annual production capacity of 110,000 vehicles, Booth told reporters today. Last year, Ford sold about 48,000 vehicles from its South African operations into southern Africa, he said.
The company has about 10 percent of the market in South Africa, trailing Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co., said Jeff Nemeth, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker’s top executive in that country. Nemeth declined to say by how much Ford wants to increase sales in South Africa.
“With the Ranger, we feel we’ll be able to catch up” with GM, which has 13 percent of the market, Nemeth told reporters today on a conference call. “We’re not going to chase market share; we want profitable growth.”
The company estimates 500,000 to 600,000 vehicles are sold a year in South Africa, including unreported registrations.
Ford is boosting capacity in South Africa, anticipating the nation’s economy will expand.
“Although we don’t have a specific estimate for when that will happen, it’s important for us to keep a presence here,” Nemeth said.
The second-largest U.S. automaker, which has been plagued by malfunctions of dashboard touch-screens, has resolved communication-technology problems in new cars, Booth said.
Ford dropped to 23rd from fifth in J.D. Power & Associates new-car quality survey, the Westlake Village, California-based market-research firm said on June 23.
“A new survey in the first quarter will show those problems have been resolved,” Booth said.
Ford shares slid 13 cents to $13.33 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
--With assistance from Keith Naughton in Detroit. Editors: Bill Koenig, Jamie Butters
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