GM launches Opel Antara production in Russia

FRANKFURT, Sept 25 (Reuters) - General Motors GM.N has begun building its Opel Antara SUV in St. Petersburg and plans to produce 2,500 units there in 2008 to meet growing demand in Russia, the company said on Tuesday.

By the end of next year Opel plans to have a new GM plant up and running in Shushary, south east of St. Petersburg, the company said in a statement.

The plant wil have production capacity of 70,000 cars per year with a staff of around 900.

In the meantime, GM said it will produce the Antara at its Arsenal plant in St. Petersburg.

“We have had great success in the Russian market ..., where Opel is the fastest growing brand,” Alain Visser, head of European marketing at Opel.

“In the past eight months Opel has sold 40,000 units, an increase of 278 percent compared to the same period in 2006,” Visser said, adding that Russia was now the fifth-biggest market for Opel in Europe.