General Motors Corp. begins production of the Hummer H3 in Struandale, South Africa, as the brand attempts to penetrate overseas markets.

European shipments of the H3 from Struandale will start in January. GM will begin making right-hand drive H3s in second-quarter 2007 for sale in South Africa, as well as for export to Europe and Asia. Models equipped with a direct-injection turbodiesel are to follow.

GM stopped building H3s for Europe at its Shreveport, LA, plant in June after stockpiling inventory for the market.

The South African-built H3 is equipped with a new 242-hp Vortec inline 5-cyl. engine, choice of manual or automatic transmission and a premium, full-time 4-wheel-drive system.

The new H3 will appear with rounded lines to comply with the European Union’s strict pedestrian safety requirements. Among other changes to meet new safety mandates are headlamps, knee bolsters, extra reflectors and a hard spare-tire cover in the back.

Croyman’s Corp., which also handles Cadillac and Corvette distribution in Europe, will oversee export shipment of the new homologated H3 from Struandale.

Hummer plans to enter the Australian market in the ’08 model year.