PSA Group may start production of Opel cars in Russia

FILE PHOTO: The logo of a German car manufacturer Opel is seen at a branch in Herisau, Switzerland October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

(Reuters) - French carmaker PSA Group may begin assembling Opel cars at its Russian plant in Kaluga, the company said on Tuesday, as it reintroduces the brand to the country.

As part of a plan to address its dependency on Europe, PSA said earlier that it would also launch its Peugeot brand in the U.S. and its Citroen brand in India.

The Opel brand was withdrawn from Russia by its then owner General Motors in 2015, the height of a crisis in the country’s car market due to a sharp depreciation in the rouble. PSA bought the Opel and Vauxhall brands from GM in 2017.

PSA is considering the possibility of assembling Opel cars at its plant in Russia, a company representative told Reuters, without detailing dates, production volume or models.

“Local production is one of the priorities and the main tool of a successful automotive business in Russia,” the representative said.

“Taking this into account, we are considering the possibility of expanding the model range in Kaluga and do not rule out assembling Opel cars (there).”

PSA owns a 70 percent stake in the Kaluga plant, which has a total capacity of 125,000 cars per year, while Mitsubishi owns the remaining 30 percent.

In 2018, the plant produced just 38,108 Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi cars.

PSA launched the Opel brand in Ukraine last year and, with its return to Russia, hopes to triple sales in the Eurasia region by 2021.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Andrey Kuzmin in MOSCOW, writing by Kateryna Urbanek; Editing by Kirsten Donovan