R700m boost for Opel SA market

German carmaker sets up subsidiary with eye on future development

The Williams Hunt dealership at Moffett Retail Park
The Williams Hunt dealership at Moffett Retail Park

More than R700m is being invested by Opel Germany to cement the brand’s presence in the South African market.

In a statement released on Monday, Unitrans – which has the distributor rights for Opel in SA – announced that the German head office had set up a subsidiary, Opel South Africa.

The subsidiary has invested the R700m into parts, warranty and service plans for Opel customers in the Southern African region.

Beyond this, the brand’s dealership network also announced an investment of R20m in upgrades.

These upgrades were aimed at bringing the 35 dealerships in line with the brand’s international look and feel, the company said.

Unitrans Opel SA general manager Brian Hunter said Unitrans had decided to employ local signage contractors for these upgrades.

“Opel wants to stimulate additional local job creation and support local business, and our local suppliers met the German required standards,” Hunter said.

Though Unitrans indicated that more Opel dealerships were expected to open over the next five years due to the brand’s growth, Unitrans public relations manager Lise Holloway said no concrete plans existed for new dealerships in the immediate future.

“The current footprint of 35 dealers will satisfy customer requirements for the foreseeable future,” Holloway said.

Two of these dealerships are in the Eastern Cape – Williams Hunt in Port Elizabeth and Meyers in East London.

Service centres in Makhanda (previously Grahamstown), Mthatha and Cradock are also operating.

About 150 people are employed by Opel across these branches.

Nearly R1.5bn has been invested in the brand since General Motors SA (GMSA), which previously handled distribution for Opel , withdrew from the South African market.

Hunter said: “We are delighted that investment in the Opel brand in South Africa has now exceeded R1.5bn when one combines the investment of Opel International, the Unitrans Opel distributor and the group of Opel dealers.

“We estimate that this investment now employs over 1,000 people.”

Opel’s director of international sales operations in Germany, Bill Mott, indicated that Opel has its eye on further growth in Southern Africa.

“We view South Africa as a very important market,” Mott said.

“South Africa is a strategic investment for Opel and our aim is to take the brand from strength to strength in South Africa and other key markets.”