GM celebrates car-making centennial at Automech 2008

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

CAIRO: It’s been almost 82 years since the opening of General Motor’s first selling point in Egypt. The company employed a skillful adaptation strategy, surviving in an ever-changing local market that was ruled by capitalism, then socialism – then something in between – and is now working towards capitalism and a free market.

GM enjoys the status of being one of the most reputable carmakers in the world. The US-based manufacturer owns several sub-brands, such as the German Opel, and has business operations in five continents. Their variety of vehicles (cars, buses, trucks, utilitarian) are among the most reliable on the road and offer great value for money.

Amid a sluggish economy, the company’s performance remains strong. It recently reported an 82 percent increase in annual sales, and saw sales of their small and medium-sized cars triple in the first quarter of 2008 compared to 2007.

In their press conference Thursday at the Automech 2008, Regional Executive Director Rajeev Chaba presented GM’s national strategy, which aims at strengthening their position and promoting their two brands in Egypt: Chevrolet and Opel.

The company also introduced several new models, including the Zafira, a spacious seven-passenger family car with a lot of storage space. The Meriva is a smaller, less expensive family car.

The Astra Sedan – the sedan version of the popular Astra – is billed as a car that combines form and function, targeting youth looking for a good-looking car without sacrificing practicability.

In the SUV category, the Captiva is a trendy 4×4 that is both cozy and comfortable, making it the ideal car for GM to enter this niche segment and compete in the lucrative market.

For those looking for luxury, the Epica is a big executive saloon car with high technical specifications and a plush interior.

GM seems to be focusing its attention on the booming Egyptian market without forgetting about its corporate social commitments. It recently launched a safety awareness program in cooperation with the Egyptian Traffic Authority.

Another speaker was Jamal Alhoot from GM’s European center for design and strategy, who admitted his surprise at the extent of this year’s Automech exhibition, adding that it coincides with the boom in the local car market.

Speaking to Daily News Egypt, he was quite optimistic about the future, citing a strengthening purchasing power.

In response to what some consider a bleak picture due to rising fuel prices and hellish traffic jams; he outlined the global dimension of these problems. Cities are getting bigger and bigger, he said, and the same phenomenon is happening in China, for example. However, the market did not suffer.

At the same time, he added, the lack of mobility on Cairo’s streets is something that must be addressed.

Regarding increasing fuel prices, he clarified that GM is shifting to using new technologies that are specific to the region they are operating in. In Brazil, Opels run on 100 percent ethanol made from sugar cane. In the US, the company sells a hybrid version of the Captiva under the brand Saturn. They also introduced the electric compact car dubbed “The Volt in Detroit last fall.

Regardless of these problems, Alhoot was still bullish on the market in light of the economic growth Egypt is witnessing, which is being felt in the car market as well.

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