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7th October, 2010

General Motors South Africa will build the new Spark at its Struandale Plant in Port Elizabeth beginning in 2012.

The Spark entry-level vehicle will become the third vehicle platform, in addition to the Chevrolet Corsa utility and the Isuzu KB. The Spark will initially be produced for the local South African market as well as for markets in Australia, New Zealand and other Asia Pacific right-hand-drive markets.

The Spark, which was launched in South Africa in August, is currently imported from Korea. Local production is set to begin during the first quarter of 2012. GM South Africa will assemble around 15,000 Sparks a year with half destined for export markets.

Together with the new Spark programme, the new generation Isuzu KB and Corsa utility will represent a $144 million investment.

“This investment reinforces our commitment to doing business in South Africa and continues a key player in motor industry” 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.”

Lourencon said the Spark is well suited to the South African market, with customers having placed more than 1,800 orders during the first month of sales. “We therefore have no doubt that the new Spark is going to be a volume player here,” he said.

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.”

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Over and above this, GM South Africa also announced that it had reached an agreement with Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan to study expanding exports of its Isuzu light commercial vehicles in Sub-Sahara Africa. This will provide export opportunities beyond the current export markets of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mauritius.

The Isuzu export opportunity together with the new Spark export contract is valued at over 1.5 billion Rand ($US217 million) per year.

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,” he said. “The recent labor 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.”


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