JOHANNESBURG— Ford Motor Co. F +1.48% is bringing the American muscle car to Africa.
By next year, drivers across Africa and the Middle East will be able to purchase the right-hand-drive Ford Mustang at dealerships in these regions. Along with the Mustang, Ford said Thursday that it will introduce 25 new vehicles to countries in the Middle East and Africa, including 17 in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2016.
The moves are part of a wider Ford plan to expand its offerings in the African and, where the rising number of young affluent consumers has begun to attract the attention of auto makers, fashion retailers and luxury hotel groups.
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Now Ford will unveil the Mustang’s pending arrival to South Africa and the rest of the continent in Johannesburg’s business district of Sandton, known as the richest square mile on the continent. Ferrari and Maserati dealerships are squeezed between banks. Night clubs attract the country’s rich and political elite.
“We’re not sure what South Africa will do but we’re so excited,” said Jim Benintende, Ford’s president for the Middle East and Africa, speaking about the Mustang launch.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang debut. In its first year, the company sold around 1 million units and sales peaked in the late 1960s. At the time, the Mustang was viewed as an affordable sports car—made in the U.S.A.—but sales have declined in recent years. In 2013, the company launched a redesigned Mustang that has upgraded technology but maintains some of its racy design, such as triple taillights and a slightly protruding hood.
Mr. Benintende said the Mustang launch represents an opportunity to turn an American icon into a global one. Earlier this year Ford said it would sell the Mustang in Europe for the first time, too. After the European launch, the company said 500 Mustang cars were ordered within the first 30 seconds of the system going online.
Ford anticipates car demand in Africa and the Middle East to grow by 40% to reach 5.5 million vehicles by the end of the decade. In Africa alone, Mr. Benintende said the number of people of driving age will increase from 540 million people to 840 million in 10 years. In January, Ford reorganized its business to combine Africa and the Middle East into one unit to have a more focused approach to growth in the two regions.
The new vehicles that Ford plans to introduce in the next two years will be imported. The Mustang, for example, is made in the U.S.
In sub-Sahara Africa, Ford currently only produces in South Africa where it has two plants—one to produce the Ford Ranger and one to produce engines. Mr. Benintende said Ford plans to begin producing a Ranger in South Africa that is stronger than the current model to target industrial business such as mining companies in South and Southern Africa.
There will be challenges to car demand growth. South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, has faced a spate of strikes that has halted car production, including one currently in its third week that has stopped output at auto-parts suppliers and halted production at Ford and other car manufacturers.
New car sales in South Africa fell 5.4% in June from the year before, data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa showed. South Africa accounts for 37% of Africa’s car sales, according to data from the Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. Africa as a whole accounts for almost 2% of global car sales.
“We need to get beyond this,” Mr. Benintende said of the recent labor unrest. “We’re making vehicles for the world. The most important thing for South Africa is to be competitive. We have to compete in the global field.”