The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, jointly gave the signal for the official start of production at the Russian plant in Kaluga on Tuesday. The plant is part of the Volkswagen Group’s international expansion strategy in one of the world’s most important long-term growth markets.
“Russia is set to become one of the world’s leading automotive nations and the Volkswagen Group will be involved in shaping this successful future as a reliable partner. Today, we have well and truly become a Russian automaker,” Winterkorn commented in Kaluga.
Looking to the future, he went on to say that the Russian market played a fundamental role in Volkswagen’s 2018 growth strategy.
Under the first stage of the project, the plant has already produced over 100,000 vehicles from the Volkswagen and Škoda brands for the Russian market since it began assembling partly-finished kits (SKD assembly) in November 2007. From 2010, maximum annual capacity of the full production capabilities launched today, featuring the plant’s own body shop, paint shop and assembly lines, will run at 150,000 vehicles. More than 600 guests from politics, industry and the media welcomed the first Volkswagen Tiguan and Škoda Octavia to leave the full production facilities in Russia. Over the coming months the Volkswagen Group will expand local production to include a further three Group models and in particular a Volkswagen notchback specially developed for the Russian market.
“Volkswagen is backing sustainable growth on the important Russian auto market. Here, the Group with its strong brands and convincing technology now ranks among the top 3 manufacturer groups in terms of vehicle deliveries. Our highly flexible plant in Kaluga has been a decisive factor in this success. My special thanks go to the Volkswagen Group Rus team,” Prof. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG with responsibility for Group Production, said.
Since assembly in Kaluga began just under two years ago, the Volkswagen Group has more than doubled its market share in Russia under difficult conditions from 3.2 percent to the current figure of 6.6 percent. While the overall market in Russia contracted by more than half during the first nine months of this year compared with 2008, vehicle deliveries by Volkswagen Group Rus only declined by roughly one-fifth.
Volkswagen’s investment in Russia amounts to approximately 570 million euros at the new production plant in Kaluga alone. A customs post was opened at the plant in the summer of 2009, making rail transport logistics easier. With a total investment volume of 774 million euros, the Volkswagen Group is the largest investor in the Russian automotive sector.
Volkswagen Group Rus currently employs more than 1,800 people in Kaluga and a further 300 in the sales company based in Moscow. By the end of 2010, there will be some 3,000 jobs at the Kaluga plant.
On the occasion of the official start of production, Volkswagen also drew attention to the company’s commitment to Russian sport sponsoring. The Volkswagen brand became the main sponsor of Russia’s national soccer team in spring 2009. Mid-September 2009, Volkswagen Group Rus and the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee signed a sponsoring agreement making the carmaker the official automobile partner for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.