June 14 will be D-Day for Opel when an announcement on the brand's future (or not) in South Africa is to be made at a Sandton media briefing.
It was initially to have taken place on June 8 but was postponed due to travel changes required by Opel leadership scheduled to attend the event.
GM announced three weeks ago that it was disinvesting in South Africa and that from the end of this year it would no longer locally build or import Chevrolets, although it would continue with after-sales and parts support. The future of the Isuzu brand is assured under the newly-established Isuzu Motors South Africa, which will continue to produce Isuzu bakkes and trucks at the Struandale factory in Port Elizabeth, which it has purchased from GMSA.
However, the fate of the Opel brand is still up in the air. GMSA stated that it would work with PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) group to develop the future strategy for Opel after the recent international sale of Opel to PSA, but it isn’t yet known whether Peugeot will take over the German brand locally.
Opel, which began building cars in Germany in 1898, has a long and distinguished history in South Africa and started selling vehicles here in the 1920s. Opels did particularly well in motor racing in the eighties and nineties, with Mike Briggs and Grant McCleery being the most successful.
After previously being somewhat marginalised by GMSA which concentrated more on its Chevrolet brand, Opel has made a local comeback in recent years with the launch of cars like the Mokka, Corsa, Adam, and the Astra – the latter being recently voted SA’s (and this publication’s) Car of the Year.