Roy Cokayne

The first locally manufactured Chevrolet Sparks rolled off the production line at General Motors South Africa’s (GMSA’s) Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth last week, the first time in 21 years that a Chevrolet passenger vehicle had been built at the local plant.

The entry level car was previously imported from Korea.

GMSA vice-president of manufacturing Mike Pearton said on Friday that a brand new multimillion-rand body shop, equipped with the latest technology, had been installed in support of the Chevrolet Spark.

The Spark assembly programme forms part of a R1 billion investment in three new product programmes by GMSA. These include the third generation Chevrolet Utility that came on stream late last year and the sixth generation Isuzu KB, which goes into production in the first half of next year.

Pearton said GMSA saw the Spark as an important player in the rapidly-growing Chevrolet product portfolio in South Africa.

He said Chevrolet’s volumes grew by 50 percent last year compared with 2010.

The quality of locally manufactured products was a key focus area for the company and the Spark was the top performing passenger vehicle in the 2011 Synovate product quality awards, Pearton said. It even featured ahead of top-end luxury vehicles available to local buyers.