General Motors South Africa has announced that it will be building the new Chevrolet Spark at its Struandale Plant in Port Elizabeth.
The popular entry level vehicle will become the third vehicle platform, in addition to the class leading Chevrolet Corsa Utility and the very successful Isuzu KB. The vehicle will initially be produced for the local market as well as for markets in Australia, New Zealand and other Asia Pacific right-hand-drive markets.
Together with the new Spark programme, the new generation Isuzu KB and Corsa Utility will represent an investment of over R1 billion. "This investment reinforces our commitment to doing business in South Africa" said Edgar Lourencon, president and managing director of GM Africa.
"This decision was based on the Spark success in the global market and to support GM South Africa's objective to assemble over 50 000 vehicles per annum in line with the government's Automotive Production Development Plan (APDP) which replaces the Motor Industry Development Plan (MIDP) in 2013."Well suited to SA market
Lourencon said the new Spark is well suited to the South African market, with customers having placed over 1800 orders for this product during the first month of sales
The new Spark, which was launched in South Africa in August this year, is currently imported from Korea. Local production is set to commence during the first quarter of 2012 creating about 500 direct new jobs in GMSA. GM South Africa will assemble around 15 000 Sparks per annum with half of this destined for export markets.
He said the South African government is an important stakeholder to its business and expressed his gratitude towards them. "We want to thank government for the support the industry receives via the APDP. Without these levels of support, we would not be able to make these investments in the South African automotive industry." Exports to expand
Over and above this, GM South Africa also announced that it had reached an agreement with Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan to expand exports of its Isuzu light commercial vehicles in Sub-Sahara Africa. This agreement will provide export opportunities beyond the current export markets of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mauritius.
Lourencon said that there were opportunities in the short to medium term to expand export markets for new Spark and Isuzu KB. "The expansion of export markets for these two vehicle programmes is however dependent upon the ability of the South African motor industry to improve its overall competitiveness. The recent labour disruptions in the automotive and components industry and the associated increases above the rate of inflation, will require that a concerted and joint effort is undertaken by industry, the union and government to significantly improve productivity levels in order to reverse the current very negative trend. We are confident the necessary work will be done and we are committed to do the best we can to help grow the automotive industry in SA."