GM to assemble Chevrolets with Russia's GAZ: companies

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

General Motors, the United States' biggest carmaker and long-time partner of Russia's top but ailing Avtovaz auto giant, said on Tuesday it had agreed to assemble cars together with Russia's GAZ.

The two companies agreed to assemble GM's Chevrolet Aveo car at the Russian carmaker's plant in Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia, the companies said in a joint statement.

"This is our first project with GAZ," Sergei Lepnukhov, spokesman for GM in Russia, told AFP.

"We were in talks for quite a long time," he said, adding that the two companies may produce other models in the future.

With production scheduled to start in mid-2012, GAZ will produce about 30,000 Aveo sedans and hatchbacks annually, the companies said without providing financial details of the deal.

GM is a long-time partner of Russian state-controlled but ailing giant Avtovaz. Their joint venture makes the Chevrolet Niva sports utility vehicle and the US carmaker also has its own plant near Saint Petersburg.

Controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, GAZ is most famous for its Soviet-era Volga sedan.

GAZ said the partnership with the United States' largest carmaker would help the Russian giant strengthen the quality of its own cars.

"The cooperation with GM will strengthen quality and technology of every production capacity of GAZ," Bo Andersson, president and chief executive of GAZ Group, said in the joint statement.

Lepnukhov said GM's partnership with another carmaker would not get in the way of cooperation with Avtovaz.

GM currently produces the old version of the Chevrolet Aveo at Avtotor, a private Russian carmaker based in the exclave of Kaliningrad.

The company sold around 18,000 Chevrolet Aveo models in the country last year, said Nazeli Atabekova, the company's spokeswoman for its Chevrolet brand.

She said it was still early to say whether GM would discontinue assembling the model at Avtotor.

Overall, GM sold nearly 160,000 vehicles in Russia last year.

© 2011 AFP

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