Since the withdrawal of General Motors from South Africa, Unitrans – the dealer group that took over importation and distribution of the Opel brand – has fulfilled its new product promise by launching the Crossland X in November last year and the Grandland in May this year.
Perhaps more importantly though, there has been ‘behind the scenes activity’ with Opel Germany setting up a wholly-owned local subsidiary, Opel South Africa, and investing more than R700-million into parts, warranty and service plans for Opel customers in Southern Africa.
In addition to that ,Opel’s South African dealership networkis engaged in a R20-million investment in corporate identity facility upgrades to bring the new Opel dealerships in line with the brand’s international ‘look and feel’.
Unitrans elected to employ local signage contractors to roll out the new Opel brand identity and improved customer experience centres.
“Opel wants to stimulate additional local job creation and support local business, and our local suppliers met the German required standards,” says Brian Hunter, General Manager of Unitrans.
General Motors (who traditionally handled the distribution for German brand Opel) withdrew from various right-hand drive markets around the globe in 2017, and Opel used the opportunity to re-focus its dealership network in South Africa.
There are currently 35 fully operational Opel dealerships, with more expected to open inthe next 60 months as the brand regains its traction locally.
Bill Mott, Opel’s director of international sales operations in Germany, indicated Opel is focused on growth in Southern Africa and has clear objectives to achieve this.
“We view South Africa as a very important market,” Mott says. “South Africa is a strategic investment for Opel and our aim is to take the brand from strength to strength in South Africa and other key markets.”
Hunter added: “We are delighted investment in the Opel brand in South Africa has now exceeded R1,5-billion when one combines the investment of Opel International, the Unitrans Opel distributor and the group of Opel Dealers. We estimate that this investment now employs more than 1 000 people.”
Having been in South Africa for over 80 years, Opel is one of the oldest car brands operating in the country and the brand the South African Motoring Guild voted the new Opel Astra as the South African ‘Car of the Year for 2017’.