GMSA set to retain Opel brand

DRIVING FORCE: Denise van Huyssteen at her GM Office in Kempston Road. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
Denise van Huyssteen at her GM Office in Kempston Road. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

General Motors SA (GMSA) will continue to market, distribute and sell Opel vehicles through its South African dealership network.

The assurance around the continued availability and aftermarket support for the brand comes in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that GM had sold its European operations, including Germany-based Opel, to French rival PSA.

PSA, which as a result of the ß1.38billion (R19-billion) deal is expected to become Europe’s second-largest vehicle manufacturer, owns and produces the Peugeot and Citroen brands.

Opel vehicles – carrying the brand’s famous badge of a lightning bolt in a ring – were manufactured and imported into South Africa by both General Motors and, for a period, General Motors-linked Delta Motor Corporation (DMC) for decades.

During the 1980s and ’90s, the brand was synonymous with motor racing in South Africa, while the Opel Astra was last year named as one of the 10 finalists for the SA Guild of Motoring Journalist (SAGMJ) 2017 Car of the Year.

GM general manager of communications for its Africa and Middle East regions, Denise van Huyssteen, said: “We continue to market, distribute, sell and service Opel vehicles in South Africa.

“Opel has preserved its independence as part of the transaction and will work with PSA Group to ensure a smooth transition.”

During the early 2000s, Delta and then GMSA were among Nelson Mandela Bay’s largest employers.

By 2009 the company’s brands in South Africa included Chevrolet, Opel, Isuzu, the Hummer H3, Saab and Cadillac.

Today, the company’s offerings have been whittled down to its Chevrolet and Isuzu portfolios, as the company confirms that it will still make the Opel brand available.

With PSA additionally to acquire, in conjunction with a major bank, GM Europe’s financial operations for ß900-million (R12.4-billion), the PSA/GM deal will have a total value of ß2.2-billion (R30-billion).

The takeover includes six assembly plants.

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