New Ford Ranger, locally built from ’22; Audi to offer EVs in SA – In the driver’s seat with Jarryd Neves

By Jarryd Neves, Motoring correspondent

Last week, Ford revealed the highly anticipated Ford Ranger, a very important vehicle for the American carmaker. The current model, first seen in 2011, is consistently one of the top 10 best-selling vehicles in South Africa, a challenger to the ever-popular Hilux. In May 2021, for example, Ford shifted a considerable 1,972 examples of the bakkie no mean feat for a vehicle with a starting price of R323,900.

The new model, with its updated technology and the option of a turbodiesel V6, will be built in South Africa from 2022 onwards. Earlier this year, Ford South Africa announced a R15,8bn investment in order to expand local manufacturing. Over 1,200 people will be hired to support the factory revamping, according to Ford South Africa. At the time, the company revealed that the Silverton assembly plant will be revamped to accommodate production of the new bakkie. Interestingly, Volkswagens Amarok replacement (based on the Ford) will be built alongside its American counterpart.

As the world pivots to electromobility, Ford has said it will release an electrified (possibly a plug-in hybrid) derivative, which will be available by 2024.

Ford Ranger
Local production of the new Ranger is expected to commence in 2022.

Premium carmaker Audi has joined the likes of Jaguar, Volvo, BMW and sister brand Porsche in offering a range of electric vehicles in South Africa. Locally, the uptake of battery-powered vehicles has been slow, with MyBroadband reporting that of the 917,000 cars sold in SA in 2019 and 2020, just 246 were electric.

Currently, a 23% import tax on electric vehicles makes them prohibitively expensive for the majority of South Africans. Other problems, such as unreliable power supply and load shedding, make them less desirable for those who can afford them.

For now, the e-tron range will be sold through just 10 dealerships, scattered across the countrys bigger cities: Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban. To assuage concerns about charging, the South African arm of the premium brand has elected to provide customers with an assessment to determine upgrades or installations required for home charging.

Whats more, the German carmaker has said it will also cover the installation of a 32-amp industrial socket up to the value of R5,000 in an effort to support the adequate set-up of a charging point within the customers home. The range kicks off with the e-tron 55 advanced (priced at R1,990,000) and ends with the range-topping RS e-tron GT, priced at R3,300,000.

In Germany, Audis home country, the ongoing semiconductor chip crisis continues to impede vehicle production. The luxury carmaker has had to cut production at two plants, Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, reports Automotive News Europe.

The e-tron GT is one of several electric vehicles Audi is introducing to the local market.

Over to the United States, where General Motors has resurrected the Hummer brandname. Previously associated with wanton excess and a heavy carbon footprint, the American company has revived the brand as an electric carmaker. The first electric Hummers are expected to make their way to eager customers in time for Christmas.

Currently, just one model is available, a pick-up truck with a price tag of over $100,000 (±R1,600,000) and a range of approximately 529 km. The model range will be extended in 2023, with more affordable options. With Tesla expected to begin production of the Cybertruck in the same year, the electric truck race should heat up. Upstart Rivian, which specialises exclusively in electric off-roaders, has delayed delivery yet again, according to Reuters.

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