GM Focuses More on the Russian Auto Market image

Although GM’s sales in Europe are continuously decreasing, it plans to more than double capacity at the St. Petersburg plant, to manufacture the new Opel Astra.

“We’ve got to bring our best game, our best products to this market,” said Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson.

In 2011 sales of Chevrolet, Opel and Cadillac in Russia increased by 53% to 244,000. Now the company plans to introduce 12 new models in the country. But this won’t be easy since competitors are also turning their attention towards Russia, abandoning the struggle in Western Europe, which faces a 5-year decline in auto sales. Akerson also tries to bring Opel back on its feet, which will add five models in Russia, also expanding Chevrolet and Cadillac brands globally.

Akerson has spoken today, June 22nd, about the company’s 5-year $1 billion investment in Russia, which will increase annual production to 230,000 units by 2015, and Russian capacity to 350,000. GM did not mention how much it invested in the St. Petersburg plant, but it will expand employment to 4,000, up 60%.

In 2008 the auto market in Russia hit 2.9 million vehicles, but then fell to 1.5 million in 2009. In 2011 auto sales were up 39%, to 2.65 units, and are expected to increase to more than 3 million in 2012 or 2013.