Ford invests in South Africa

In an effort to beef up its presence against its competitors in growing emerging markets, Ford will invest in South Africa as an export hub.

Ford Motor Co. is making multi-million-dollar investments in two major export hubs in Asia and Africa, as part of an effort to beef up its presence in fast-growing emerging markets. On Thursday, Ford announced a $450 million outlay to build a new passenger car plant in Thailand. The plant is expected to provide a boost to the Thai auto industry and help an economy racked by months of political turmoil.

Next week, Ford will unveil plans to increase production capacity at a plant in South Africa, enabling the company to export more Ford Ranger trucks to Europe and other markets. The company has no plans to import the global version of the popular truck to the U.S. market, a Ford executive said.

“Frankly we’re maxed out. We have more sales potential than we can build,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president for Asia-Pacific and Africa, said of Ranger production. “The next generation Ranger will be also built in South Africa and will be a great opportunity for us to expand our capacity for Ranger globally.”

The investments follow Ford’s strong earnings in the first quarter, when it reported $2 billion in net income. Despite its improved bottom line, the auto maker still faces a number of challenges, including $31.3 billion in debt and sluggish auto markets in the U.S. and Europe.

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