American auto giant, Ford, announced on Monday that it would start assembling Ranger pickups 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 except in North America. The last US-built Ranger rolled off the line in St. Paul, Minnesota, 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.
Nigeria will be the first African country outside of South Africa to produce Ford vehicles. The Ranger will be assembled in Ikeja, Lagos, creating about 180 jobs.
The Nigerian operation will be a ‘semi-knock down’ 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, was quoted as saying that the “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.
He added: “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.