GM forecasts African sales growth

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Johannesburg - General Motors’ plans for growth in Africa will be led by sales of its Isuzu KB range of pick-up trucks, with production starting in South Africa and Egypt later this year.

African sales of all vehicles are expected to rise 43 percent to 2 million units by 2016, compared with 1.4 million last year, Mario Spangenberg, president of GM Africa, told reporters in Johannesburg today.

Detroit-based GM operates four manufacturing plants across South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt, with production expected to increase to 100,000 units from 2013.

“We can anticipate that the continent as a whole will become more and more important,” Spangenberg said.

“The Isuzu KB is a vehicle vitally important to GM in Africa.”

The world’s biggest automakers have been increasing investment in emerging regions such as Brazil, India and Russia as well as Africa in recent years to make up for slowing or stagnant sales in developed European or US markets.

GM, which also owns the Opel and Cadillac brands, started production of the sixth generation of the Isuzu KB range at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa this month, Spangenberg said.

Production in Egypt will begin in the second half this year, he said.

South African vehicle sales rose 9.2 percent to 623,914 units in 2012, the slowest pace of growth in three years, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in January. - Bloomberg News

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