Ford has announced plans to unveil 17 novel vehicles into Sub-Saharan markets by 2016 as part of an aggressive expansion strategy by the company’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) operation, overseen by its fifth and newest global business unit headquartered in Dubai.

Spanning Saudi Arabia to South Africa, and Nigeria to Kenya, Ford’s MEA unit comprises 67 markets where vehicle sales are expected to grow by 40% by the end of the decade to 5.5 million vehicles, and where Ford is investing heavily to distribute its full range of models.

“Ford is bringing a full family of safe, high quality, fuel efficient and fun-to-drive cars, trucks and SUVs to customers throughout the Middle East and Africa region,” said MEA president Jim Benintende, speaking during the firm’s Ford ‘Go Further’ event in South Africa.

“MEA is the final frontier for global growth in the auto industry and thanks to the power of our ‘One Ford’ plan, we are able to offer vehicles here that our customers want and value.”

Ford consolidated four regional African operations to create its MEA business unit, which in the last four years alone has witnessed a 60% increase in sales of its Ford and Lincoln brands. The aim was to overhaul Ford’s strategy to take advantage of the region’s growth trends.

“The region is vast and comprises very diverse markets with different political, cultural and economic environments that demand a robust operation with a clear understanding of the unique conditions and customer needs in each of the markets,” explained Benintende.

“The Dubai business unit will give the region the focus it deserves and help spearhead Ford’s continued growth in emerging markets. Africa is one of the youngest markets in the world, and there is an opportunity to provide an affordable product for the people of the continent.”

Benintende emphasised that one of the key priorities for Ford include supporting its dealer network to better service the needs of its diverse customer base across the Middle East and Africa region, where the firm currently sells about 200,000 vehicles a year.