GM South Africa is on track to begin exporting the first right hand drive HUMMER H3 vehicles to markets in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Africa in May, says the company’s Planning Director Ian Nicholls.
Speaking at a media function at GM South Africa’s operations in Port Elizabeth, he said that 10 000 vehicles would be exported this year. “We began exporting left hand versions of the HUMMER H3 in November last year to markets in the Middle East, Europe and Israel. Our contract is now fully on stream and we will be meeting demand for both left and right hand drive markets.”
“In addition to this there are a number of markets which we are currently not exporting to, that have recently shown an interest in the vehicle. These stretch from Asia to South America.”
He said that exactly two years ago GM South Africa first announced that it had been awarded the R3 billion HUMMER H3 contract. Since then 500 new jobs have been created and the company’s Struandale production facility has undergone significant expansions.
“In fact the original plant covered an area of 46,900 square metres on a 24 hectare site, and this has been extended over the years, almost doubling in size to cover 75,625 square metres, on an increased 37 hectare site.”
Nicholls said that the project had been a mammoth effort, involving teams from Detroit, Brazil and South Africa. “This has truly been a global project and has involved employees from across the globe in our Engineering, Purchasing and Manufacturing divisions.”
The HUMMER H3 export project supports General Motors’s global vision to expand the HUMMER footprint around the globe. The company’s plant in Shreveport in the United States is responsible for assembling HUMMER H3 vehicles for the North American market, while the South African plant is producing for markets outside of North America.
Nicholls emphasised that GM South Africa should feel proud of its achievements. “We succeeded in meeting very tight timing parameters on the project, while at the same time we met some very tough quality targets. This has been a remarkable team effort and demonstrates our capabilities to deliver on a project of this nature.”
Looking into the future, Nicholls said that it was too soon to speculate on whether GM South Africa would be awarded additional export contracts. “We are now involved in the early stages of global vehicle development programmes which have created opportunities for South Africa to be part of the global assembly footprint. We will therefore, on an ongoing basis, be assessing opportunities to further grow our business through the acquisition of vehicle export programmes.”
The first HUMMER H3 vehicles will be retailed in the South African market in June. They will be retailed via a dedicated footprint of five dealers which will grow to fifteen in the future.