Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies issued a statement responding to General Motors’ (GM) exiting SA, saying he learnt of the news with “regret and concern for the numerous employees whose jobs and livelihood will be directly and indirectly affected as a result”.

But Davies said GM’s departure was not surprising, considering it had failed to meet the minimum production volume of 50,000 units required by the government’s Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) since 2013.

“Sales have been on a downward trend for the past five years, and exports remained low at about 2,000 vehicles per annum with a maximum of 3,500 units,” Davies said.

“Although we do not welcome this decision, we believe that the future of the industry positive as automotive industry stakeholders are finalising a master plan for SA with a view to growing domestic vehicle production volume and local value addition, and an announcement on the final programme can be expected early 2018 latest and will cover the period post 2020,” he said.

“GM has had a presence in SA since 1926, under various brands such as Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Isuzu, Oakland, Oldsmobile and Vauxhall,” his statement said.

Davies downplayed that GM’s decision to close the South African operations it was not selling to its Japanese joint-venture partner Isuzu was a criticism of ANC policies.

To back this argument, Davies noted that GM had exited Australia in 2013, where it had a joint venture with Holden.

GM also closed a plant in Indonesia in 2015 and another in India in April.

In March, it had exited Europe by selling its Opel and Vauxhall brands to Peugeot.

General Motors’ exit from SA