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10 Jul 2009 16:23
General Motors South Africa (GMSA) would not seek a government loan as it was debt-free and building up cash, president and MD Steve Koch said on Friday.
He was addressing a media briefing in Sandton.
Koch noted that June had been a good month for the vehicle manufacturer.
“Maybe every month won’t be as good as June, but we’re still a major player in the industry,” he said.
Koch said GMSA would be launching new products starting later this year.
“This shows our commitment towards South Africa,” he said.
GMSA was looking forward to “a lot of good things”.
“Next week we will be launching our R250-million Pan-African Parts Distribution Centre at Coega,” he said.
However, he emphasised the environment locally and globally would remain difficult.
“But the major thing is that we can compete in this environment,” Koch said.
GMSA was looking forward to working with its parent company in the United States, the “new” GM.
Maureen Kempston Darkes, General Motors vice-president of Latin America, Africa and Middle East, told the briefing that the parent company would now be “leaner and more efficient with a very healthy balance sheet”.
The US Bankruptcy Court recently approved the sale of General Motors Corporation’s assets to NGMCO Inc, an entity funded by the US government.
NGMCO Inc will change its name to General Motors Company and continue to operate under GM’s corporate and sub-brands.
Kempston Darkes said that emerging markets were “very important” to GM.
“Sales from emerging markets are greater than those in GM’s home market in the US,” she said.
“We will continue to be a key player in South Africa,” she said.
Turning to the issue of “greener” cars, she said there was not “a lot of interest” in this type of vehicles in South Africa.
However, she said GM’s environmentally friendly electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, might become available locally.
“Electric cars are fine for some markets but other markets prefer alternative fuels such as ethanol,” she said.
Kempston Darkes said it was important to meet the broad spectrum of customers’ needs.
“Although we will make some smaller cars in the future, the pick-up truck won’t go away—but it is our job to make if more fuel efficient,” she said.
Koch agreed that “greener cars” were not a priority for South Africans.
“But should that change, we’ll be ready to go with it,” he said.—Sapa
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