Russia to launch Moskvich car production at former Renault plant in December

Collector of Soviet-era Moskvich cars and blogger Stanislav Tsibulsky drives his Moskvich 403 in Troitsk outside Moscow, Russia May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
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MOSCOW, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Russia plans to start production of the Soviet-era Moskvich cars in December, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Thursday, more than six months after French carmaker Renault's (RENA.PA) exit set the wheels in motion for the classic car's return.

Renault sold its majority stake in carmaker Avtovaz (AVAZI_p.MM) to the Russian state for reportedly just one rouble ($0.0165), but with a six-year option to buy it back. The same state institution snapped up Nissan's (7201.T) assets this month for one euro.

Sobyanin in May said Moskvich production would preserve thousands of jobs, but the plant, renamed Moscow Automobile Factory Moskvich, has stood idle since then.

"The automobile industry has seriously flopped this year, but nevertheless, I hope that we can launch the Moskvich plant in December with the help of the Industry and Trade Ministry," Interfax news agency quoted Sobyanin as saying.

The Moskvich, which translates as a native of Moscow, ceased production around two decades ago.

The Moskvich plant on Thursday said it hoped to produce about 600 cars this year, including 200 electric vehicles, and 50,000 cars in 2023.

The plant cited Sobyanin as saying that Moscow has all necessary expertise to be a centre of the electric vehicle industry.

The Moscow mayor's office and Russia's largest truckmaker Kamaz (KMAZ.MM) agreed in August to invest 5 billion roubles in the Moskvich plant.

Kamaz is searching for a foreign partner to produce cars in Moscow. Sources have said Kamaz could partner with a Chinese design, engineering and production platform.

($1 = 60.4500 roubles)

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; editing by Alexander Marrow and Elaine Hardcastle

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