GM to cut its Spark turnout

Lee-Anne Butler

GENERAL Motors SA is cutting its Chevrolet Spark production figures and export numbers as announced last year by about 50%, due to a re-organisation of operations in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

In October last year, GMSA announced it would start production of 15000 Sparks a year at the end of this year, which would enable the company to achieve a production rate of 50000 vehicles a year, as was required to benefit from the government’s Automotive Production Development plan (APDP).

Of the Sparks manufactured at the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth, 50% were planned to be exported to existing markets and other potential markets in Asia-Pacific countries.

GMSA communications manager Denise van Huyssteen said the operation in South Africa was now aggressively focusing its strategies around increasing its volumes in African markets, hence the decision to cut the Spark’s production in favour of the Isuzu KB.

“We recently took the decision to confine the markets for Spark to sub- Saharan Africa, thereby aligning all our vehicle assembly programmes to these markets. In addition to this, through our strengthened relationship with Isuzu, we will be assembling the next-generation Isuzu KB in both left- and right-hand drive, increasing our reach to more markets in sub-Saharan Africa,” Van Huyssteen said.

“Our manufacturing operation forms a core part of this strategy and the combination of our three vehicle assembly programmes – Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Utility and Isuzu KB – are the key enablers which will ensure that we succeed in these markets,” she said.

Production of the Spark will be cut from 15000 to 7000 a year, with the company’s investment in its three new vehicle assembly programmes remaining at R1-billion.

“We have a solid plan in place to ensure that by 2013 we are able to exceed the 50000 volume target for APDP. Product lines all represent high volumes for us in the domestic market – Chevrolet Corsa Utility has been No1 in its segment of the market for more than six years in a row, Spark is one of the top-selling passenger vehicles, while Isuzu KB’s popularity in the market is well entrenched,” she said.

Van Huyssteen said the Spark production cut would not affect jobs at the plant, as the 500 jobs set to be created by the Spark project would now be created through the three new vehicle assembly programmes together. Of these, 300 jobs were set to come on stream this year.

“Production is set to come on stream from the end of this year.”


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