Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa will stop producing the Mazda 323, Ford Fiesta and Mazda Etude by the end of this year. The 323, now in its final incarnation, the Sting, will bow out after 26 years.

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) will stop producing the Mazda 323, Ford Fiesta and Mazda Etude by the end of this year, a report says. The 323 was first launched in South Africa in 1977 (originally in rear-wheel drive form) and its final incarnation, the Sting, will bow out after 26 years.


Currently, FMCSA, Volkswagen SA, Toyota SA and Fiat Auto SA all produce entry-level vehicles that have long since been replaced overseas, namely the Sting, Fiesta, CitiGolf, Tazz and Uno. And by next year, the list would have dwindled to just three manufacturers.


Craig von Essen, Ford's general manager for communications and government affairs, said the 323 would not be replaced and the latest Fiesta would be imported. The Mazda 3, the replacement for the Etude (which itself is called the 323 in Britain), would be produced locally, but this was not its passenger vehicle export model.


CARtoday.com reported recently that the Silverton plant would produce, among others, a car for the local and export markets from the first quarter of 2005 as part of FMCSA's new export programme. Thus Ford will produce locally only the Ford Ranger, Mazda Drifter, Ikon, Bantam, Volvo S40 and V40, and the Land Rover Defender, next year.


Von Essen was quoted as saying that the Silverton-based manufacturer would have "excess employees" before the start of its volume car export programme. The number of excess employees was known but he was not prepared to divulge it.


However, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesman Dumisa Ntuli said Ford had started a consultation process last week on the retrenchment of about 300 workers.


He said the number of workers to be retrenched was "a rough figure" and consultations were continuing. The union was, predictably, opposed to planned retrenchments.


Ntuli said Numsa did not understand the rationale for the retrenchments when the company had just been awarded a major export contract: "This is a contradiction. The company is getting a new export order and reducing workers."

Original article from Car