General Motors South Africa Overview



General Motors South Africa (GMSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of internationally based global auto maker General Motors Company, was established in South Africa in 1913 and began manufacturing in 1926.



Historical Background


    Quick Brand Facts

     

    1913

  • Little cars soon renamed Chevrolet were distributed in South Africa

  • 1926

  • First Chevrolet came off the line at the GM Assembly operations in South Africa. (July)

  • 1934

  • Opel’s were distributed in South Africa for the first time.

  • 1937

  • Opel was manufactured at GM South Africa

  • 1955

  • The first Opel Rekord produced in South Africa came off the line.

  • 1971

  • Isuzu Light Utility vehicle built under the Chevrolet brand for the first time in South Africa

  • 1977

  • Introduction of Isuzu KB diesel bakkie.

  • 1979

  • First Isuzu KB produced at the GM South Africa plant in Kempston Road
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    Historical Timeline

     

    1898

  • First Opel produced - originally a sewing machine business started by Adam Opel.

  • 1902

  • Oldsmobile cars 1st advertised in Kimberley ‘Diamond Fields Advertiser’ newspaper

  • 1908

  • General Motors Corporation opens 16 September (sold: Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs, Oaklands)

  • 1911

  • The General Motors Export Company was formed for purpose of handling shipments outside USA.

  • 1913

  • ‘Little’ cars - soon renamed Chevrolet and dubbed ‘Durant’s Dreams’ distributed.

  • 1915

  • The Chevrolet 490 arrived in South Africa in September.

  • 1918

  • Nathaniel C Tuxbury sets up in Johannesburg’s Motortown as company representative.
  • General Motors' representatives begin setting up in Port Elizabeth

  • 1919

  • General Jan Smuts, South Africa’s new Prime Minister purchases a Cadillac – setting the trend for the use of Cadillacs as Ministerial cars

  • 1920

  • Chevrolet “Baby Grand” was introduced in South Africa
  • Post Office purchased Chevrolet’s for official use.

  • 1922

  • South African Police took delivery of their first eight Chevrolet’s

  • 1923
  • The First Chevrolet Truck “Light delivery Wagon” was available in South Africa.

  • 1924

  • It was reported that Chevrolet’s sold more than any other model on the market.

  • 1925

  • Mr Tuxbury returns from South America to marry Johannesburg girl - Beatrice McGregor.
  • Tuxbury hires empty wool store in Darling Street, Port Elizabeth and office premises in the City Chambers.

  • 1926

  • General Motors Assembly Operations and distributing centre opened in Port Elizabeth, South African in March. (Mr NC Tuxbury appointed General Manager)
  • First car came off the line in April
  • First Chevrolet came off the line in 1 July
  • The 1000th Chevrolet had been built in October
  • The 2000th Chevrolet had been built by November
  • Vehicle Makes produced at the GMSA Facility: Oakland, Chevrolet, GMC trucks, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Vauxhall.
  • One sixth of all cars on South African roads were Chevrolets

  • 1927

  • 5 Thousandth Chevrolet came off the line on the 28th of May
  • At this time they were producing 30 cars daily and 22 of them were Chevrolet’s

  • 1928

  • GMSA purchases 36 hectares land in Kempston Road, Port Elizabeth to build superb new plant

  • 1929

  • General Motors gained possession of the Kempston Road factory in October during the month of Wall Street crash
  • GM acquires 80 per cent of Opel
  • The Chevrolet Safari Truck is introduced into the market
  • 25 000 Chevrolets had been built by the GM South African plant

  • 1930

  • GM purchases the rest of the Opel shares.

  • 1934

  • The name Isuzu first appears
  • Opel was first introduced in South Africa and imported from Britain.

  • 1937

  • GMSA produces record range of vehicles: Cadillac, La Salle, Oldsmobile, Buick, Chevrolet cars and trucks, GMC and Bedford Trucks, Opel and Vauxhall.

  • 1938

  • SA Government approaches GM to build war vehicles
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    World War II: 1939 – 1945

     

    1939

  • Addition of Parts and Accessories warehouse and offices
  • Armoured cars one of GMSA's earliest war productions - original orders for 266 placed

  • 1940

  • Production at GM’s Opel operation in Germany comes to a standstill

  • 1941

  • Isuzu Company concentrates on diesel engine technology
  • Dec 7 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor - catapulting the automotive industry, including GMSA. into the war effort

  • 1942

  • GMSA stops production for civilian market - car production is just 800 for the year anyway
  • Women trained to replace men at Kempston Road factory
  • 1000s of armoured cars, troop carriers, fire engines, ammunition boxes and naval vessel fittings built by GMSA

  • 1946

  • General Motors Corporation faces 113 day strike in 18 American states
  • First vehicle built since war, the face lifted 1942 Chevrolet model, comes off production line
  • The slogan of the Chevrolet is “Well worth waiting for”
  • Chevrolet Scholarship Plan was launched in June. It was a two year training course at the famous General Motors Institute at Flint, Michigan. It was part of a worldwide programme and plans were laid to send four men annually from SA “from the early days an exchange of expertise and ideas had started at GM.

  • 1948

  • Opening of new Assembly Plant at Kempston Road, Port Elizabeth on 25 August
  • New models off the assembly line for the first time since the war - first is ‘fishtailed’ Cadillac
  • The famous Chevrolet Fleetline (“Aerosedan”) is introduced and has a highly successful run until the end of 1956
  • In November, GM Corporation agrees to two year trial ownership with Opel

  • 1949

  • Production of successful Chevrolet ‘style line’ and Pontiac ‘Chieftain’ models begins
  • Started manufacturing Delco Batteries at Kempston Road

  • 1950

  • GMSA begins production of Frigidaire refrigerators

  • 1951

  • GMSA celebrates 25th anniversary
  • Started manufacturing springs at GMSA

  • 1952

  • Frigidaire Stove and exhaust muffler manufactured at GMSA

  • 1954

  • R1 million spent enlarging manufacturing concern at Kempston Road factory. This included body building section, central laboratory, Parts and accessories warehouse, 3 story office block and a large cafeteria big enough to serve 3000 meals.
  • A service school for dealers in GM diesel engines and associated products was completed and opened in September. This was to provide free training for students from throughout the country.
  • Tail pipes were manufactured at GMSA

  • 1955

  • One of the longest running models ever produced by GMSA introduced - Opel Rekord
  • Chevrolet models included the Biscayne, Belair and the Impala, which ran through to 1966

  • 1957

  • Opened the new Technical Training Centre in Pretoria it was designed to serve 250 dealers with service training in diesel engines, automatic transmissions car air conditioning, and car bodies etc. It supported not only the Transvaal dealers but also Natal, O.F.S, Northern Cape, Central African Federation, Swaziland, Mozambique.

  • 1959

  • Opel Rekord Delivery van production starts

  • 1960

  • Chevrolet Corvair is introduced, followed by the famous Chevy II and Chevelle.
  • Start of small car popularity - saw - introduction of - Opel Kadett and -Vauxhall Viva

  • 1961

  • Opening of Technical Training Centre and Service Centre at Kempston Road

  • 1963

  • Purchase of 160 Hectares of land at Aloes on northern outskirts of Port Elizabeth by GMSA
  • 100 000th Frigidaire Refrigerator is produced

  • 1964

  • A total of 6000 employees were employed at GMSA in 1964
  • 50 000th Frigidaire Stove produced

  • 1965

  • GMSA’s mammoth Engine Plant opens at Aloes on 5 April 1965. Engine Machining begins
  • Completion of new R3 million Paint Shop at Kempston Road

  • 1966

  • The construction of the Engineering Technical Centre was completed (5 000 sq. metres) an contained facilities such as dynamometers for testing engines and test rigs for suspensions, springs, road wheels, generators, hooters and radiators. Also a facility for checking sheet metal pressings as well as chemical and metallurgical labs…this was the first of its kind in South Africa.
  • This is where the design and development of the Chevrolet 2500/3800/4100 range and Chevrolet 1300/1400 were first produced.
  • 750 000th vehicle produced by GM South Africa
  • First GM Open Golf Tournament held in Port Elizabeth
  • The Chevrolet Caprice is introduced into the market

  • 1967

  • Engineering Technical Centre opens at Kempston Road

  • 1968

  • Introduction of GM’s Ranger - “South Africa’s own Car” - popular and available until 1973.
  • MD of GMSA, Mr Slocum announces order for sheet metal components by European General Motors plant

  • 1969

  • Chevrolet Kommando/Constantia/De Ville series introduced at GMSA

  • 1971

  • GMSA MD, Mr Slocum announces association with Isuzu of Japan
  • In July, GM Corporation obtains 34,2% interest in Isuzu Motors Ltd

  • 1972

  • The 1 millionth vehicle came off the line at precisely 4pm on the 29th November. It was a bright yellow Chevrolet 3800 which came off the assembly line ant it was earmarked as a gift for the Port Elizabeth Community Chest
  • Best-selling Chevrolet 2500/3800/4100 range introduced
  • First model introduced in South Africa - LUV 1 ton pick under the Chevrolet name
  • First GMSA International Classic Golf Tournament held in Port Elizabeth

  • 1973

  • Introduction of Isuzu Commercial & Truck - phase out of Chev Commercial Vehicles at GMSA

  • 1974

  • General Motors South African enters locomotive business - Diesel Electric Locomotive Assembly Plant established near Engine Plant at Aloes

  • 1975

  • 100th locomotive produced
  • Isuzu SBR422 launched- high speed direct injection diesel engine medium trucks set new standards for performance and economy

  • 1976

  • GMSA introduces new range of Opel-derived models
  • Chevrolet Nomad introduced

  • 1977

  • Switch to ADE engines accomplished with assistance of Isuzu’s Engineering division

  • 1978

  • Introduction of KB diesel bakkie - soon one of South Africa’s top selling bakkies
  • Phase out of Holden, Vauxhall and Bedford - production confined to Opel and Isuzu sources

  • 1979

  • The first Isuzu KB came off the production line at GMSA, Kempston Road plant.

  • 1980

  • Opel Kadett reintroduced - two years later, GMSA’s passenger car range takes Opel name

  • 1982

  • Introduction of ADE engines on light and heavy trucks at GMSA
  • Aloes plant closed down and engines and transmissions fully imported from Germany

  • 1983

  • Closure of the Delco Battery Plant at GMSA
  • GMSA produces range of Opel Kadetts and Asconas
  • Also in the product line up were the successful Rekord/Commodore/Senator V car range
  • South Africa sees arrival of yet another newcomer - the Suzuki ST 90 and SJ 410

  • 1985

  • GM decides to disinvest from South Africa

  • 1986

  • Management buyout: Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, André van Rooyen and George Stegmann

  • 1987

  • Delta Motor Corporation is born
  • Vehicle throughput increases by 30%
  • New F-series Isuzu truck range successfully launched
  • Company sold 30 000 units in 1987 - 6 000 more than the anticipated 24 000
  • Two new engines introduced to the popular Isuzu KB range.
  • New works-supported team in South African production car racing - Delta Motorsport
  • Delta mourns death of Bob Price, Delta’s first executive Chairman on the 10th October.

  • 1988

  • Delta's "Moon Mission" blasts off - two South African built Opel Rekords set out to cover distance between earth and moon - 376 024 kilometres in Namibia
  • Cars then set world record of 500 000 kilometres
  • 4 Opel Kadetts circuit high speed track - 48 new local sprint and endurance records
  • Sales and Marketing office opens in Johannesburg - Delta Park
  • Company wins National Organisational Safety Association 5-star safety rating
  • Production doubles since 1986 - 40 000 units sold
  • 1st birthday celebrated on 20 February with a rock concert in Bulk Warehouse

  • 1989

  • New Isuzu KB Pick-Up launched - first new body shape built by Delta
  • Delta Motorsport takes Group N National Championships for third consecutive year
  • Upington: 365 days two Opel Rekords cover 573 020 kilometres - no mechanical failure
  • 2nd assault: SA Endurance records by three Opel Kadetts rewrites record books again
  • 100 000th vehicle manufactured by Delta - red Opel Kadett Cub presented to Avis

  • 1990

  • Fastest production Opel Kadett in the world, "Superboss" 2L GSi 16V, launched
  • Top Non-Listed Company Award for Delta

  • 1991

  • First Car of the Year Award for Opel Monza 160 GSi
  • 6 of 10 classes won in Total Economy Run
  • Port Elizabeth "Citizen of the Year" awarded to Delta
  • Delta Motorsport wins Manufacturer's Challenge Trophy for third consecutive year.
  • New mainframe computer installed at Kempston Road for R6,5 million

  • 1992

  • R10 million Truck plant commissioned at Markman Township
  • Opel Calibra launched in South Africa
  • 4 of five Group N racing titles won
  • Delta wins Business Steering Wheel Award - relationship between GM Europe and Delta
  • Keith Butler-Wheelhouse moves to SAAB Automobil AB, Sweden - Willie van Wyk becomes Managing Director of Delta

  • 1993

  • Suzuki Samurai launched in South Africa
  • Precision Exhaust Systems wins General Motors' Supplier of the Year Award for the first time
  • New Opel Astra and Kadett T2700 ranges launched
  • Delta leads the field in adult education for the development of employees
  • Delta Motorsport wins Manufacturers' Challenge Trophy, Drivers' Championship in Touring Car series

  • 1994

  • Struandale Manufacturing Facility purchased by GMSA
  • First major export order to the USA
  • Delta Foundation is formed in September - Delta's community development wing
  • Opel Kadett 140 wins second Car of the Year Award
  • Launch of Opel Astra Estate
  • Precision Exhaust Systems wins 2nd General Motors' Supplier of the Year Award

  • 1995

  • Top exporter of one-ton commercial vehicles into Africa
  • First major tooling export to India
  • Delta Motor Corporation awarded distribution rights of Saab range from Sweden
  • Opel Astra 160iS wins third Car of the Year Award
  • Precision Exhaust Systems wins third General Motors Supplier of the Year Award
  • 400 new jobs advertised for a new facility at Struandale.

  • 1996

  • Struandale Assembly Plant opened by Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin on the 30th of October
  • All new Opel Corsa which was manufactured at the Straundale plant went on sale for the first time in November.
  • Upgrade of Kempston Road includes new Toolroom and Paint Shop
  • Delta signs R20-million export order for alloy wheels with Saab
  • 15 Opel Astra and Opel Kadett models receive face-lifts
  • Precision Exhaust Systems win 4th GM Supplier Award

  • 1997

  • General Motors Corporation purchases 49% stake in the company.
  • Delta sells 60 050 vehicles and gain a16% total market share.
  • Opel Corsa sedan and imported Saab 9-3 and 9-5 launched
  • Isuzu KB is the top selling one-ton pick-up in South Africa
  • First counter-trade export project with Brazil.
  • Export Agreement signed with Germany for wiring harnesses.
  • Fifth GM Award for Precision Exhaust Systems.
  • Delta Foundation wins first of a string of awards.

  • 1998

  • Delta's Black Empowerment initiative, Yenza Manufacturing, opens
  • Five-door Isuzu Frontier wagon launched
  • Joint Venture Stainless Precision Components established
  • Half-ton Opel Corsa utility launched
  • Precision Exhaust Systems wins sixth GM Supplier Award
  • Opel Motorsport wins Manufacturers' and Drivers' Group N challenge

  • 1999

  • Truck plant facility returns to Kempston Road which becomes Delta's commercial vehicle plant.
  • Struandale Assembly Plant ISO 9001 accreditation - Delta's passenger assembly facility.
  • Opel Motorsport return to Touring Car racing with imported Opel Vectra
  • Second generation Opel Astra T3000 launched
  • Seventh GM Award for Precision Exhaust Systems

  • 2000

  • Nelson Mandela's historic visit to Delta Motor Corporation
  • NOSA Housekeeping Award presented to Struandale Plant

  • 2001

  • Imported range of vehicles introduced into the South African Market - Opel Astra Caravan, Opel Zafira, Opel Astra Coupé and the Opel Omega
  • Home Zone Initiatve is launched for employees
  • Financial Life Skills and Debt Consolidation programme is introduced for employees

  • 2002

  • The all new Corsa is introduced into the market and the Corsa GSI version is nominated as a Car of the Year finalist
  • Delta Foundation's Centre for Learning Project wins Impumelelo Platinum Award
  • Delta Foundation’s Missionvale housing project is shortlisted as a finalist for the best ten international housing projects for the World Habitat Award
  • OCSA initiative is launched for employees which signals the provision of free primary heath care for the company’s retirees

  • 2003

  • Delta opens a new Sales and Marketing Division, dedicated to retailing fully imported Chevrolet vehicles in South Africa. This sees the introduction of the following Chevrolet markets into the market: Spark, Aveo, Vivant and Lumina
  • The imported Opel Meriva is launched to the market

  • 2004

  • GM Returns to South Africa by purchasing all the shares in Delta Motor Corporation
  • GMSA invests R300 million into its facilities
  • GMSA launches seven new products among which is the new Isuzu KB and Corsa Pick-up
  • GMSA invests R500 million into tooling and facilities for the new Isuzu KB
  • GMSA announces that it will be distributing and retailing Saab in South Africa

  • 2005

  • GMSA is awarded a three billion dollar export contract to manufacture the HUMMER H3
  • GMSA launches the Corsa Utility 1.8I base and sport
  • GMSA launches the 2005 Opel Corsa with 1.7 CDTI engines
  • GMSA launches the Opel Astra 2.0I GSi
  • The Opel Astra is named as a finalist in the 2004 COTY competition

  • 2006

  • GMSA sold a record breaking 87121 vehicles in the market, up 12.1% from last year
  • GMSA begins exporting the left-hand drive HUMMER H3 vehicles to markets in the Middle East, Israel and Europe.
  • The Opel Astra GTC 1.9 CDTI is nominated as a 2006 Car of the Year finalist.
  • GMSA announces the introduction of the Cadillac brand to South Africa
  • GMSA launches the Opel Astra GTC and OPC range and the new Chevrolet Spark

  • 2007


    GMSA launches:

  • Chevrolet Lumina UTE and Sedan
  • Opel Zafira OPC
  • The Cadillac BLS and SRX
  • The Astra Twintop
  • HUMMER H3 Right hand drive
  • Chevrolet Captiva
  • Opel Corsa 4400
  • Isuzu KB I90 MY07
  • The GM South Africa Foundation received the Impumelelo Platinum award
  • The GM South Africa Foundation received the American Chamber of Commerce’s (AMCHAM) Bronze “Star of Africa” Award.
  • GMSA was awarded first prize overall for Rental and Leasing at the SAVRALA manufacturer of the year awards. In addition to gold overall, the company was awarded bronze in the rental section and silver in the leasing section.
  • GM South Africa achieved 15 awards in the Synovate Quality Awards Survey.
  • Opel Corsa Utility was named top performing compact pickup for the third consecutive year in initial quality in the JD Power and Associates 2007 South Africa Initial Quality Study. Other attainments in the JD Power and Associates 2007 South Africa Initial Quality Study include: Corsa Utility was named top pick up nameplate, followed by Isuzu KB. Assembly Plants achieved second place for assembly of Isuzu KB and Opel Corsa Utility Isuzu KB achieved second position in the one ton single cab segment and second in the one ton double cab segment.

  • 2008

  • All Vehicle Conversion Operations relocate to the new high tech Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre in Aloes, Markman Township In May 2008.
  • GMSA launched 8 new products to the market including two Isuzu truck series.
  • GMSA scoops 13 quality awards in the Synovate Quality Awards Survey.

  • 2009

  • GMSA starts building the new Parts Distribution Centre in Coega
  • GMSA stops producing HUMMER H3 in a decision by the parent company to sell the brand.
  • GMSA Foundation wins Dubai International Award for the Sakhasonke Housing Project in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth
  • GMSA scoops 13 Synovate Quality awards
  • GMSA launches the all new Chevrolet Cruze

  • 2010

  • GMSA opens its new Parts Distribution Centre in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.
  • The popular Opel Corsa Utility changes brand to Chevrolet Corsa Utility.
  • GMSA is awarded the contract to build the Chevrolet Spark M300.
  • Chevrolet Cruze is nominated for Car of the Year in South Africa.

  • 2011

  • On September 28, the South African President, Jacob Zuma visits the Struandale plant as part of an Eastern Cape tour on manufacturing and job creation in the province.
  • The third generation Corsa Utility goes into production, changing the name to Chevrolet Utility.
  • GMSA launches the all new Chevrolet Orlando to the market.
  • The Chevrolet Sonic is launched to the South African market.
  • The Chevrolet Spark wins best in quality in the Synovate Quality Survey with only 17 problems recorded per 100 in the overall quality awards. Surpassing main brands like Mercedes Benz and Honda.
  • GMSA wins the General Electric Environment Award for water savings initiatives.

  • 2012

  • First Spark M300 comes off the line in March
  • Isuzu body shop opens at Struandale for production of the 6th generation Isuzu
  • In June 2012 the first pilot build 6th generation (RT50) Isuzu goes into production in both left hand and right hand drive.
  • GMSA launches Opel Astra GTC, Cruze Hatchback and Trailblazer

  • 2013

  • First 6th Generation Isuzu comes off the line in February.
  • The first 6th Generation Isuzu Left Hand Drive model comes of the line in July.
  • GMSA Launches the 6th Generation Isuzu for retail in Left Hand and Right Hand drive markets in Africa.
  • GM consolidates its Africa Operations and with its Africa headquarters based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
  • Chevrolet Turbo Charged petrol engine introduced to SA for the first time.

  • 2014

  • In February, the Chevrolet Sonic RS was launched which also signaled the commencement of the roll-out of the Chevrolet Mylink Infotainment System in the Chevrolet portfolio.
  • Upgraded Trailblazer is launched.
  • GMSA announces the Isuzu Sponsorship of the Vodacom Bulls and for the first time the Isuzu logo appears on the Bulls players’ jersey.
  • The 1 Millionth One World Futbol is handed out in South Africa.

  • 2015

  • 250000th Chevrolet Utility Rolled off the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth.
  • GMSA contributed 2.76-million vehicles built to the global total of 500 million vehicles.