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GM FastLane:H3 Goes Global

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By Ed Welburn

GM Vice President, Global Design

I’m writing from Port Elizabeth, the heartland of South Africa’s motor industry, where we’ve just launched production of the Hummer H3, to be exported around the world.

Until now, the H3 has only been available in North America. This launch will bring the H3 to Europe, Asia and Latin America before the end of 2006, and to South Africa and right-hand drive countries like Britain next year.

The launch itself was really creative. We held it right at the factory, at the Struandale Assembly Plant (which has been making Opels since 2004). There were singers and dancers performing. Though I couldn’t see them, because I was backstage getting ready to drive out in a vehicle, I could hear the voices singing with the incredible harmonies that I’ve heard here, day after day. And then when the factory workers saw the H3 working the obstacle course, they were amazed at the capability of their own creations.

This launch was more than the introduction of a new vehicle - it was a huge leap forward for General Motors South Africa. I think it’s significant that GM chose this plant in South Africa - it shows our commitment to the country and to the GM team here. The energy level here today was amazing! Everyone feels what it will do for this country.

I know the Hummer brand is “known around the world.” But I never expected what I found here. I was really thrown by how much the young people here know about the brand and its history. There is something about Hummer’s character that fits here. The people of South Africa like distinctive design - in automobiles, in fashion, in architecture. Hummer is distinctive design, and they value that. It’s the right time for this vehicle here.

Meeting the GM employees here, the factory workers, I could just feel the commitment, the excitement, the energy. They’re on a mission, for the brand and for the country. And this H3 project has made them part of the GM family in a way they hadn’t been before. They feel a connection to the rest of us through this project.

As for myself, I have to say it was pretty emotional to see a vehicle I’ve had some involvement with come into production in South Africa. To see that vehicle and brand finally go global makes me feel really good.

And as an American of African ancestry, it was a very special moment - one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.



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