General Motors ( GM ) announced today that will open a flexible assembly plant in St. Petersburg, Russia this week. This new plant will produce the Opel Antara and Chevrolet Captiva SUVs and, as of late 2009, the all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan. With a total of $300 million investment, GM increases its production capacity with 70,000 units in Russia.
“We are fully committed to our Russia growth strategy,” said Carl-Peter Forster, President of General Motors Europe. “Russia is poised to become Europe’s Number One car market for GM as early as 2009. With five strong brands on the market, we are the leading non-Russian manufacturer. That’s a position we aim to keep.”
GM grew sales in Russia by 44% in Jan-Sept 2008, outpacing industry growth of 23% and reaching a record total of 256,765. GM’s market share has reached a new high of 10.9% in Russia from 6.5% as recently as 2006. In the first nine months of the year, Chevrolet maintained its position as Russia’s favorite non-domestic brand with sales up 33.5% (or 44,000 cars and SUVs) to a total of 175,800. In the same period, Opel was the fastest growing brand in the country with sales up 73% to over 78,000.
“Our St. Petersburg plant will work to the same high standards that have recently resulted in major quality awards for our cars,” said Carl-Peter Forster. The new plant, located in Shushary on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, will employ 1700 people.
GM’s new employees have undergone intensive training in the company’s global manufacturing system which focuses on top quality in all processes, continuous improvement and involvement of the workforce.