Firing on all cylinders

A business icon in the Eastern Cape community of Port Elizabeth, the Ford engine plant at Struandale has produced 3,3-million engines since 1964 – and is gearing up for increased volumes.

This month, the Struandale Engine Plant assembled its 500 000th Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine since the program was launched in 2011 for the new Ford Ranger, which is built at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria and exported to 148 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Ford has a long history in Port Elizabeth, having started its operations in the city in 1923. The Struandale Engine Plant has been a cornerstone of Ford’s South African legacy, evolving continuously over the past 53 years to become a regional centre of excellence for the Ranger engine export program.

“Reaching 500 000 Duratorq TDCi engines, and a cumulative 3,3-million engines since 1964, is a fantastic achievement for the Struandale Engine Plant which competes with some of the best Ford plants in the world,” says Ockert Berry, vice president of Operations, Ford Middle East and Africa. “It is one of the Eastern Cape’s top exporters, contributing to the success of the automotive industry and its supplier network in the region.”

Fully assembled 2,2-litre four-cylinder and 3,2-litre five-cylinder Duratorq TDCi engines are supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant for installation in the locally-built Ford Ranger pick-up and the seven-seater Ford Everest SUV.

Engines are also exported to India and China to support their production of the Ford Everest, along with five-cylinder units being shipped to North America for the Ford Transit. A total of 34 engine derivatives are produced for the various vehicle applications.

Along with its assembly operations, the Struandale Engine Plant also machines components for the Duratorq TDCi engines, comprising the cylinder head, block and crankshaft, which are used for local engine assembly, as well as export to Ford engine plants in Argentina and Thailand. More than 1,3-million component sets have been produced since 2011.

“Due to its unprecedented global success, demand continues to grow, both locally and internationally for the Ford Ranger,” Berry states. “Accordingly, we have invested R3-billion for both product and capacity related actions to accommodate the increasing market volumes for the Ranger in South Africa and our export markets.

“The Struandale Engine Plant already achieved its highest-ever volumes for component machining and engine assembly during 2017, and we expect to set new records again in 2018,” he adds. “The R3-billion investment reaffirms Ford’s ongoing commitment to South Africa as a local manufacturer, exporter and key employer in the automotive sector, supporting a large number of direct jobs as well as indirect employment through our extensive supplier base.”

Additionally, Ford is preparing for the launch of the first-ever Ranger Raptor.

“The Ford Ranger is already one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles, and we’re exceptionally proud to confirm that this highly anticipated performance model will be assembled in South Africa from 2019,” says Dr Casper Kruger, managing director of Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is yet another fantastic achievement for our local team, and signals our ability to produce world-class products of the highest calibre.”

As an exciting new addition to the Ford Performance family, the Ford Ranger Raptor is a purpose-built, desert-racing inspired model that builds on the unrivalled heritage of Ford Performance’s legendary F-150 Raptor, the world’s most extreme production pickup.

Designed and engineered to deliver an adrenaline-pumping driving experience, the Ford Ranger Raptor sports a head-turning exterior look that exudes toughness as well as a level of capability and off-road performance never before seen in this segment.

 

 

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Elantra gets some zest

Having just had a drive, albeit brief, in the all-new Hyundai Elantra Sport, it seems incongruous the company has taken several iterations of the nameplate to come up with a derivative that is a zesty challenge to some other ‘hot’ cars on the market.

To be fair. My first encounter with Hyundai came way back in the Billy Rautenbach days and a visit to Seoul to gain insight to the, then, fledgling company just beginning to dip into export markets that revealed a very clear five, 10 and 20 year plan committed to gaining market share and recognition.

Sporty performance was simply not a requirement.

Even the ill-fated Daewoo answered the call locally from a performance and motor sport driven country when it entered, and, won the Castrol Rally – such a turn up it surprised everyone including, possibly, overall winner Sarel van der Merwe who thanked Hyundai in his speech.

A slip of the tongue or wishful thinking – we will never know. However, Hyundai has made the leap and is successfully campaigning in the World Rally Championship.

So, to the new Elantra Sport. Well, new Elantra, since the entire range has been significantly updated with a completely new look and underpinnings.

The 2017 Elantra enters the South African market in four derivatives: The Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and Elantra 1.6 Executive automatic (both driven by a 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine); the Elantra 2.0 Elite, with a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine and the range-topping Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport, with a 1,6-litre turbo-charged petrol engine.

Both specification levels – Executive and Elite – offer comprehensive features, which are all included in the recommended retail prices, starting at R299 900 and ending at R399 900 for the Elantra Sport with several special design, trim and technical characteristics.

“First-time drivers of the new Elantra will be pleasantly surprised to see standard features such as an 8-inch hi-resolution infotainment system, rear park assist, six air bags, Isofix latching points for child seats, cruise control and alloy wheels on all the derivatives,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.

“We are confident we are bringing a very attractive and well-rounded package to an important segment in our market. The new Elantra will again fill an important slot in our model line-up for car buyers who are looking for a bigger or a family sedan.”

 Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille gives the Elantra a strong presence from the front, with automatic projection headlamps including LED Daytime Running lights as part of the cluster. The Elantra’s sporty lower front fascia integrates functional front wheel air curtains that help manage air flow from the front of the vehicle and around the wheels to minimize turbulence and wind resistance.

In addition, underbody covers, an aerodynamic rear bumper bottom spoiler and rear deck lid designed with an expanded trunk edge contribute to the Elantra’s 0,27 coefficient of drag.

Model-exclusive front and rear fascias give the Sport crucial visual differentiation from the rest of the Elantra lineup.

The rear light cluster of the new Elantra with its bright LED display is also distinctive of the Hyundai range. For the Elantra Sport, a different bottom half of the rear bumper reiterates its sporty nature, with a unique skid plate and visible chrome-plated dual exhaust pipes.

The Executive derivatives are kitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, whereas the Elite trim level get 17-inch alloy wheels.

All four derivatives’ gain leather seats with model-specific interior appointments such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel, red sport seats and red contrast stitching for the Sport.

The standard 8-inch infotainment system, which includes satellite navigation, provides a USB Mirror Link for Android cell phones, HDMI connectivity for iPhones to view the iPhone screen on the head unit, hands-free Bluetooth telephone link with remote controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth music streaming and AUX and USB input ports. It also features a CD player.

Electrically operated side mirrors and windows, cruise control and rear park assist are also standard convenience features across the range. The Elite derivatives have an automatic air-conditioner, rain sensors for the windscreen wipers, and a smart key push-button to start the engine.

 The new Elantra is available with three petrol engines: A 1 591 cm3 four-cylinder engine that produces 94 kW at 6 300 r/min and 154 Nm at 4 850 r/min in the Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and 1.6 Executive Elite automatic.

Then there is the 1 999 cm3 Nu MPI Atkinson four-cylinder engine producing a peak 115 kW at 6 200 r/min and 195 Nm of torque at 4 500 r/min in the Elantra 2.0 Elite automatic and the turbo-charged 1 591 cm3 four-cylinder engine in the Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport producing 150 kW at 6 000 r/min and 265 Nm torque from 1 500 r/min to 4 500 r/min.

The Elantra 1.6 Executive comes with a choice between a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the Elantra 2.0 Elite is available only with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite Sport has a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters, and the driver can choose between a Normal, Eco or Sport driving mode with the press of a button.

Fuel economy ranges from 6,5 l/100 km (manual) and 6,9 l/100 km (auto) in the two Executive derivatives, to 8,3 l/100 km and 7,9 l/100 km in the Elantra 2.0 Elite auto and the Elantra 1.6 TGDI DCT Sport respectively.

The 2017 Elantra is lighter than the outgoing model and its rigid chassis is now reinforced with 53% advanced high-strength steel, providing improved stiffness at a lower body weight. This increased usage results in a 29,5% stiffer torsional rigidity and 25,3% greater bending strength, which bring improvements in vehicle ride and handling, quietness, durability and driving performance.

Improved ride comfort, handling and stability are achieved through Elantra’s redesigned rear suspension geometry that modifies the angle of the rear shock absorbers and changed the position of the coil springs on the coupled torsion beam axle. Additionally, an increase in rear bushing diameter helps to improve long term durability.

In the Elantra Sport an exclusive rear multi-link independent suspension helps deliver outstanding dynamics.

The Elantra’s front suspension uses a McPherson strut with coil springs and gas shock absorbers along with a front stabiliser bar to help reduce body roll when cornering.

An anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) is standard on all derivatives for active safety, with the addition of an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) in the Elantra Sport.

Passive safety is taken care of by driver, front passenger, side and curtain air bags in all the derivatives.

Pricing

The recommended retail prices of the new Elantra range are:

  • Elantra 1.6 Executive (manual)      R299 900
  • Elantra 1.6 Executive (auto)  R314 900
  • Elantra 2.0 Elite (auto)            R349 900
  • Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT    R399 900

Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty and additional 2-year/500 powertrain warranty is part of the standard package, which also includes 5-year/150 000 km roadside assistance and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

Service intervals are 15 000 km for all derivatives, with an additional initial service after 5 000 km for the Elantra Sport.