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GM pulls the plug on SA operations, Isuzu to take over


General Motors South Africa (GMSA) has announced its exit from the South African automotive landscape at the end of 2017, also bringing to an end the sales of Chevrolet vehicles.

In a statement, President for General Motors International, Stefan Jacoby, said the American auto giant, which bought the Delta Motor Corporation in 2004 before branding it as GMSA, had evaluated its options and "determined that continued or increased investment in manufacturing in South Africa would not provide GM the expected returns of other global investment opportunities".

GM however announced that an agreement had been reached with Isuzu Motors, which would see the Japanese commercial vehicle specialist assume control of the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth to continue production of the KB bakkie as well as medium and heavy-duty trucks, take over GM's existing Parts and Distribution Centre, Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre, and set up a dedicated dealer network to market and distribute the brand.

"We are committed to the South African market. The integration of our light commercial and medium- and heavy-duty commercial business will strengthen our base to grow here. We will do this through our focus on providing outstanding aftersales and customer support, establishing close relationships with our local partners and expanding our business," Isuzu Senior Executive Officer for Sales, Haruyasu Tanishige, said.

He also stated that the takeover would allow Isuzu to grow its operations on the African continent, following a recent 57.7% purchase of GM's East African business.

"Integrating the South African light commercial vehicle operations into our business is the next step in laying the foundation for our growth plans in the future," Tanishige remarked.

The departure of GM and Chevrolet, which will see production of the Utility and Spark seize in the coming months, has left the future of Opel in limbo following the German marque's high-profile sale to the PSA Group in March.

GMSA President and MD Ian Nicholls has stated that a decision on Opel's future in South Africa is currently being discussed with PSA, with an announcement expected to take place at a Opel press conference in Sandton on June 8th (Autodealer will be attending this event).

Nicholls has stated that it will continue to honour warranties and provide aftersales support to existing customers. A consultation process with employees has also been established.

"These decisions were not made lightly. We appreciate the support that our employees, customers, dealers, suppliers, the government and other key stakeholders have given us over the many years that we have operated in this country. We will manage the transition as smoothly as possible," he said.

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