The withdrawal from SA by an iconic global company is a serious matter. General Motors (GM) has been in SA for nearly a century, although it did temporarily disinvest in 1986 due to political pressures at the height of the international campaign against apartheid. This latest move has been interpreted in some media reports as a vote of no confidence in the South African economy although the company insists it is a matter of global strategic positioning. So what is really happening? The decision can be evaluated at three levels — the position of the company in SA, the current situation and future prospects of the Southern African vehicle industry, and the global context for GM. GM SA produces Chevrolet and Isuzu products from its two assembly plants in Port Elizabeth. The fact is that the company has not been very successful in SA for a number of years. In 2016, it only produced 33,602 cars and commercial vehicles, less than 6% of SA’s total output. Modern, world-scale plants produce...

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