General Motors South Africa (GMSA) recorded a strong sales performance in 2011 having grown sales volumes by 24,4% versus the previous year and almost 10% above the industry growth of 15,6%.
By the end of 2011 the company’s top selling light commercial vehicle (LCV), the Chevrolet Utility, remained the number one selling vehicle in the sub one ton segment for 81 months in a row, selling 17 736 units last year alone.
These sales results were achieved amid the third generation Utility being launched late last year. “We are looking forward to continued success in the market with the latest generation Utility. Its superior interior and exterior design, enhanced technology together with proven reliability are attributes that will build on to the success of this vehicle,” said Ian Nicholls, GMSA Vice President of Planning.
According to Nicholls, Chevrolet, the biggest brand in the GMSA portfolio, volumes grew by more than 50% versus the previous year. “This year we are launching eight new vehicles in South Africa of which six are Chevrolets. This month we are launching the Chevrolet Sonic Sedan, Sonic Hatch diesel and Captiva diesel,” said Nicholls.
Added to these six Chevrolet entrants we will be launching two Opel products into the market. “We look forward to the arrival of the sporty Astra GTC and the all new Meriva due in the first half of this year,” said Nicholls.
He added that the South African vehicle market in 2012 will remain buoyant, however, the rate of growth is expected to moderate versus the last two years as a result of both local and global economic pressures. “South African economists are forecasting a rapid escalation in consumer inflation in 2012 compared to last year, which will impact the growth rate. Growth in the South African economy is expected to be around 3% this year,” said Nicholls.
On the manufacturing side Nicholls said that GMSA is investing R 1 billion in new vehicle programmes of which the first, the Chevrolet Utilty, was launched at the end of 2011. The Chevrolet Spark which is currently imported is going into production at the Struandale plant at the end of the first quarter. This vehicle was rated the best quality passenger vehicle by Synovate last year. Meanwhile the company is tooling up for the sixth generation Isuzu KB which goes into production in the first quarter of next year. “When we assemble the next generation Isuzu KB, it will be the first time ever that we assemble the vehicle in both left and right hand drive, opening up new markets for us in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Furthermore, Nicholls said that the automotive market will continue to become increasingly competitive. There are some 80 brands representing well over a 1000 different models in the market. “Our strengthened portfolio gives us over 70% coverage of the market. However, in order to grow in this environment we have to ensure that we stay abreast with technology, skills development and continuously improve our efficiency,” said Nicholls.
The company therefore continues to invest in the education of its employees and their children. To this end GMSA invests in excess of R10 million per year on bursaries, scholarships and educational programmes.