VILNIUS, June 6 (Reuters) - Russian truck maker Kamaz plans in September this year to launch its first production line within the European Union, in Lithuania, chiefly to target sales in eastern Europe where it aims to boost its market share ten-fold.
Kamaz intends gradually to increase production to 1,500 trucks per year at the plant employing about 100 workers, said Giedrius Diktanas, director of the truck maker’s Lithuanian partner Autobagi.
“This is enough to take 3 percent of the eastern European Union market,” he said, adding the company currently holds 0.2-0.3 percent of the market.
The Baltic state saw its economy collapse in a balance of payments crisis after the financial turmoil of 2008, but it bounced back thanks to an austerity drive during which some wages fall by as much as 40 percent and unemployment rose to 14.5 percent in the first three months of 2012.
Kamaz, one of the largest truck producers in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union, aims to boost sales of its specialised EU-certified truck models to the former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe, Diktanas said.
Most of the parts will be imported from Russia while the engines will be brought from Britain, he said.
“This is the first Kamaz enterprise established in the European Union states and is intended specifically for the EU market,” Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said on Tuesday.
German autos group Daimler has an 11 percent stake in Kamaz.
Lithuania’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter to just under 4 percent year-on-year, but still remains among the strongest expansions in the economically stagnating European Union. (Reporting by Aleks Tapinsh; Editing by Anthony Barker)