General Motors SA has announced plans to build the latest Chev Spark, launched in South Africa in July, at its Struandale facility in Port Elizabeth. The cars have until now been imported from South Korea. Local production of the funky new Spark will start in the first quarter of 2012. The Struandale plant also produces Isuzu KB bakkies and the Chev Corsa Utility; GMSA on Thursday told Wheels24 that the next generation of Chev’s popular bakkie would also be built at Stuandale.Sparks produced at PE will initially be built for the domestic market, Australia, New Zealand and other right-hand drive markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Spark production is expected to create 500 jobs at GMSA and a production target of 15 000 units a year, half of them for export markets, is projected. The investment at Struandale, including the new Spark programme, will total more than R1-billion, the company said. “This investment reinforces our commitment to doing business in South Africa,” said Edgar Lourencon, president and managing director of GM Africa. “This decision was based on the Spark's success in the global market and to support GMSA’s objective of assembling more than 50 000 vehicles a year, in line with the government’s Automotive Production Development Plan which will replace the Motor Industry Development Plan in 2013.”Future Isuzu plansGMSA also announced an extension in its agreement with Isuzu to expand its light commercial vehicle exports t0 sub-Saharan Africa. Lourencon said that there were opportunities to expand export markets for the Spark and Isuzu KB. “The expansion of export markets for these two vehicle programmes does, however, depend upon the ability of the South African motor industry to improve its overall competitiveness," he added. "Recent labour disruptions and pay increases above the rate of inflation will require a concerted and joint effort by the industry, the union and government."