Just as Americans celebrated their country on July 4, Egyptians celebrated, too — but for a slightly different reason. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from his position Thursday and is now in military custody.
As a result of turbulent crowds on the streets Wednesday and Thursday, BMW, General Motors (NYSE:GM), and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) were forced to shut down at least some of their operations in the country during the period of unrest in order to protect their businesses.
Despite the chaos, as of April, Egypt’s car sales have been up 14 percent, selling 68,106 units. It’s the third largest car-producing market in Africa after South Africa and Morocco — something BMW, GM, and Toyota have been sure to take advantage of. But though production never stopped, all three automakers were forced to cut their losses and close down at some point this week.
In response to the protests, BMW closed its sales and production unit as a precautionary measure on Thursday. It expects to resume operation on Sunday, the beginning of the workweek in Egypt. Likewise, according to a statement from GM Egypt marketing and export manager Karim Tinawi, GM Egypt was closed during the American holiday but expects to reopen Sunday.
Unlike its competition, Toyota remained in operation, reopening Tuesday after a shutdown from June 29 to Monday. According to Automotive News, a spokesman said via email on Wednesday that “This was a precautionary measure taken by Toyota Egypt based on reports of upcoming large-scale demonstrations,” adding that the Japanese automaker’s twenty-five dealerships in the country were not damaged.
Toyota is currently building the Hilux-based Fortuner mid-size SUV at its plant in Egypt. GM also has a complete knockdown plant in Egypt, where it sells its Opel and Chevrolet brands.