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Russia revives the Soviet-era Moskvich brand with a Chinese model



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Roly Poly Nevalyashka doll is seen inside a car during a gathering of Soviet-era Moskvich car owners and enthusiasts in Moscow, Russia on May 21, 2022. The sign reads: “Made in the Soviet Union”. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/Profile photo

By Gleb Stolyarov and Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – After a two-decade hiatus, Russia on Wednesday started production of its Moskvich car brand at a plant near Moscow abandoned by the French carmaker. renault (EPA:), with a new, modern Chinese design that hardly resembles the classic Soviet era design.

While the last Moskvich (“Muscovite”) was a basic three-box saloon or a pedestrian hatchback, the Moskvich 3 is a muscular-looking gasoline-powered hatchback crossover with alloy wheels, headlights, and LED and large central touch screen.

In fact, the car looks exactly like the Chinese-made Sehol X4 compact crossover made by JAC, also known as the JAC JS4.

Sources told Reuters that JAC’s design, engineering and platform are being used, with parts being shipped from China and vehicles on display at the launch featuring multiple JAC labels bearing code numbers. part.

However, Maxim Klyushkin, the plant’s project manager, refused to confirm that the Chinese company is a partner of Moskvich.

“We have (Russian truck manufacturer) Kamaz as an external partner and we have a long-distance partner that we are working with,” he said. “We didn’t name that partner.”

Klyushkin says the car will have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), one of the features that Russia’s Avtovaz was forced to remove from Lada models due to Western trade sanctions imposed in response. Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Renault sold most of its shares in Avtovaz in May to the Russian state for allegedly just one ruble, but with a buyback option in six years. It sold its factory, now renamed the “Moskvich Automobile Plant”, for another ruble.

VEHICLE SALES DOWN

With just 600 vehicles expected to be produced this year, the new car is unlikely to change the bleak outlook for the broader industry, with annual sales likely to end the year under 1 million for the first time. in the modern history of Russia.

The government’s ultimate goal is to produce 100,000 Moskvich vehicles a year, some of which will be electric, well below the industry average for an auto plant of 200,000-300,000. Tesla (NASDAQ:) produces 22,000 cars a week at its Shanghai factory.

“The first Moskvich vehicles will roll off the production line in December 2022,” Kamaz said in a statement.

Western sanctions on Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine not only hinder access to foreign-made components, but also help to exclude foreign manufacturers.

Kamaz and the government have established a new supply chain, but did not disclose details.

“The task in the near future is to establish small node assembly processes with the participation of local suppliers by the end of 2023,” Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said in a statement.

The ministry said the launch of large-scale production would provide jobs for about 40,000 more people. The car will go on sale in Russia next month, it added, although the price has yet to be revealed. President Vladimir Putin last week urged automakers to lower prices.

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