General Motors will soon be exiting two more global marketplaces. This morning, the company announced that it would be cease selling vehicles in India and end its operations in South Africa by the end of this year.
“As the industry continues to change, we are transforming our business, establishing GM as a more focused and disciplined company. We are committed to deploying capital to higher return initiatives that will enable us to lead in our core business and in the future of personal mobility," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.
As we reported back in March, GM said it was "considering reducing investments in North American cars and "select" international markets" during a call with analysts. At the time, GM was keeping quiet what markets could see cuts.
“Recent actions by General Motors demonstrate clearly it is not the GM of old. Today's GM management is correctly focused on profits, not sales volume and market share. It has shown a willingness to cut its losses if there's no clear path to profitability and market dominance," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader to the Detroit Free Press.
In India, the decision to end sales doesn't come as a surprise. Despite being one of the first automakers to enter the market, sales of Chevrolet vehicles (only GM brand to be sold) never made a dent. Autocar India reports that sales from March-April 2017 dropped 6,717 units to 25,823. Market share also saw a sharp drop from 1.17 percent to 0.85 percent. Analysts tell Reuters the part of the reason GM wasn't able to make any inroads into India was failing "to launch low-cost yet feature-rich vehicles that Indian buyers prefer." Also the high servicing costs drew many people away.
“We determined that the increased investment required for an extensive and flexible product portfolio would not deliver a leadership position or long-term profitability in the domestic market,” said Stefan Jacoby, executive vice president and president for GM International.
General Motors isn't leaving India entirely. The company will still operate its tech center in Bangalore and transition of its two assembly plants to building vehicles for export. The other assembly plant will be sold to their joint venture partner in China, SAIC.
"We are not giving up benefits India offers as a local cost manufacturing hub with an excellent supplier base which is extremely competitive," said Jacoby.
In South Africa, General Motors will cease selling Chevrolet vehicles and transition their operations to Isuzu. This includes the purchase of GM's light commercial vehicle assembly plant in Port Elizabeth, along with control of GM's Parts Distribution Centre and Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre.
"After a thorough assessment of our South African operations, we believe it is best for Isuzu to integrate our light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations into its African business. We determined that continued or increased investment in manufacturing in South Africa would not provide GM the expected returns of other global investment opportunities," said Jacoby.
“These decisions were not made lightly. We appreciate the support that our employees, customers, dealers, suppliers, the government and other key stakeholders have given us over the many years that we have operated in this country. We will manage the transition as smoothly as possible,” said GM South Africa president and managing director, Ian Nicholls.
General Motors says servicing and support will continue in both markets for owners.
General Motors Restructures International Markets to Strengthen Global Business Performance
- GM India to focus on export manufacturing
- Isuzu Motors to purchase GM South Africa light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations
- Chevrolet to be phased out of Indian and South African markets
SINGAPORE – General Motors (NYSE: GM) today announced key restructuring actions in its GM International operations to drive stronger financial performance and focus its capital and resources on business opportunities expected to deliver higher returns.
The company will focus its GM India manufacturing operations on producing vehicles for export only and will transition GM South Africa manufacturing to Isuzu Motors. GM’s Chevrolet brand will be phased out of both markets by the end of 2017.
“As the industry continues to change, we are transforming our business, establishing GM as a more focused and disciplined company,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are committed to deploying capital to higher return initiatives that will enable us to lead in our core business and in the future of personal mobility.
“Globally, we are now in the right markets to drive profitability, strengthen our business performance and capitalize on growth opportunities for the long term. We will continue to optimize our operations market by market to further improve our competitiveness and cost base.”
These decisions were made following an extensive review of operations in GM International markets and reflect a series of actions taken to improve global business performance that began in late 2013.
"These actions will further allow us to focus our resources on winning in the markets where we have strong franchises and see greater opportunity," said GM President Dan Ammann. “We have compelling plans for growth in both the top line and the bottom line as we invest for the future."
GM Executive Vice President and President, GM International, Stefan Jacoby said the company is running its GM International markets with an enterprise approach and making decisions that are best for the global business.
“In India, our exports have tripled over the past year, and this will remain our focus going forward,” he said. “We determined that the increased investment required for an extensive and flexible product portfolio would not deliver a leadership position or long-term profitability in the domestic market.”
In South Africa, Isuzu will acquire GM’s light commercial vehicle manufacturing and GM will cease manufacturing and sales of Chevrolet in the domestic market, subject to local regulatory requirements.
“After a thorough assessment of our South African operations, we believe it is best for Isuzu to integrate our light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations into its African business,” said Jacoby. “We determined that continued or increased investment in manufacturing in South Africa would not provide GM the expected returns of other global investment opportunities.”
Under the improvement actions announced:
India: GM’s manufacturing facility at Talegaon will continue as an export hub for Mexico and Central and South American markets. GM will cease sales of Chevrolet vehicles in the domestic market by the end of 2017. Existing Chevrolet customers will continue to be supported in the market.
South Africa: Isuzu will purchase GM’s Struandale plant and GM’s remaining 30 percent shareholding in the Isuzu Truck South Africa joint venture, with sales through a national dealer network. Isuzu will also purchase GM’s Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre and assume control of the Parts Distribution Centre. The company will phase out the Chevrolet brand in South Africa by the end of 2017. GM continues to work with PSA Group to evaluate future opportunity for the Opel brand in South Africa. Importantly, existing Chevrolet and Opel customers will continue to be supported in the market.
East Africa: As announced on February 28, Isuzu has agreed to purchase GM’s 57.7 percent shareholding in GM East Africa, assuming management control. GM will withdraw sales of the Chevrolet brand from the market.
Singapore: GM International will streamline its regional headquarters office in Singapore, which will retain responsibility for strategic oversight of the remaining regional business and markets, including Australia and New Zealand, India, Korea and Southeast Asia. This will deliver greater organizational efficiencies while leveraging global resources and in-market expertise.
Across affected markets, GM is working with employees, their union representatives and local authorities to provide transition support.
As a result of these actions, GM expects to realize annual savings of approximately $100 million and plans to take a charge of approximately $500 million in the second quarter of 2017. The charge will be treated as special and excluded from the company’s EBIT-adjusted results. About $200 million of the special charge will be cash expenses.