JOHANNESBURG – General Motors South Africa says the launch of 10 new vehicles this year will help boost its share of the domestic market.

Malcolm Gauld, GMSA sales and marketing director, says the auto maker expects the overall market to decline 2%-3% this year due to higher interest rates, inflation and rising fuel costs.

However, a key growth area remains the light-commercial vehicle segment, where the auto maker holds a 23% share.

“Even though the light-commercial market is likely to remain relatively flat against 2007, we will be looking to continue to grow our volumes in 2008,” Gauld says.

“The Corsa Utility has been the leader in the half-ton segment for an incredible 32 months. With the addition of the new Isuzu Motors Ltd. KB range launched recently, we expect to acquire a more dominant position in other segments of the LCV market.”

GM’s Chevrolet brand continues to perform well, Gauld says, with sales surging 44% in 2006 and an additional 18% last year.

“We are extremely encouraged by this performance and expect to continue to build momentum in terms of the growth of our Chevrolet brand in 2008,” he says.

GMSA has invested 834 million rand ($124 million) over the last several years to upgrade its retail network of 152 outlets. The auto maker also has rolled out nine premium dealerships that retail the Cadillac, Hummer and Saab brands.

This year, GMSA plans to invest roughly 74 million rand ($11 million) to upgrade its operations.

Additionally, progress is under way at the auto maker’s Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Center in Aloes, a multimillion dollar facility that will house storage and logistics operations. The center is due to open in the second quarter.