Ford announced Monday it will assemble the Ranger pickup in Nigeria starting in the fourth quarter of 2015 as part of its expansion in the Middle East and Africa where the small truck is popular.
The Ranger is built and sold around the world with the notable exception of North America. The last U.S.-built Ranger rolled off the line in St. Paul, Minn., in December 2011. Ford redirects truck buyers to the larger Ford F-150 but a core of customers continue to ask for the return of the smaller pickup.
Elsewhere, the truck is a strong product; global sales increased 40% in 2014. Ford builds the pickup in South Africa, Thailand and Argentina.
Nigeria will be the first African country outside of South Africa to produce Ford vehicles. The Ranger will be assembled in Ikeja, in the Lagos State, about 470 miles from the capital city of Abuja, creating about 180 jobs. An investment figure is not being released.
The Nigerian operation will be a "semi-knockdown" plant that will receive parts and components partially assembled from South Africa and complete the assembly. Ford will send employees to Nigeria to train them in the Ford manufacturing system.
The kit assembly plant has capacity for 5,000 trucks a year, all for the Nigerian market.
Ford is partnering with Coscharis Motors Limited, a Ford dealer group. Cosmas Maduka, president of Coscharis Motors, said "this partnership will boost Nigeria’s much needed march towards industrialization and create an important step in the development of the automotive industry."
For Ford, “assembling Ford Ranger trucks in Africa’s largest economy is an important milestone in our Middle East and Africa growth plan,” said Jim Benintende, president of Ford Middle East & Africa. “With Coscharis we have the right partner and with the Ford Ranger we have the right product to deliver a world-class truck that Nigerian customers want and value.”
The Ranger is the best-selling vehicle in South Africa, and Ford sees Nigeria as a priority market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The truck is sold in 24 African countries and 148 markets worldwide.
"Today’s announcement will allow us to better serve our customers both from a retail point of view, and in terms of vehicle and parts availability,” said Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Sub-Saharan Africa region. “We are committed to supporting Nigeria’s developing automotive industry and economy, he said, noting assembly operations, even on a smaller scale, have
positive ripple effects in the local economy and workforce.