10 Aug 2009 14:26

Sollers, Isuzu JV halts production

KAZAN. Aug 10 (Interfax) - Severstalavto-Isuzu in Tatarstan, a joint venture between Russian Sollers and Japanese Isuzu Motors Limited, has halted truck production indefinitely, the venture reported.

"The Severstalavto-Isuzu plant is not closed and the joint venture continues to exist. But due to the difficult economic situation and declining demand on the auto market, the decision has been made to halt production of Isuzu trucks due to accumulated inventories. The challenge today is to sell what has already been produced," the venture said in a statement.

Some employees have been transferred to the Sollers-Yelabuga plant, which manufactures the Fiat Ducato. The 69 employees who declined to be transferred to Sollers-Yelabuga lost their jobs but will receive three months' severance pay, the statement says.

The company hopes to ride out the current difficulties and, to the extent production plans recover, reassemble the workforce.

The Sollers-Yelabuga plant continues to operate a full working week, filling an order for Fiat Ducato from the federal Health and Social Development Ministry and the Tatar health ministry.

Sollers has a 66% stake in the joint venture, Isuzu has 29% and Isuzu trading firm Sojitz, which provides trade financing for the project, has 5%.

Production of two Isuzu models - NQR 75 and NLR 85 - began at the Severstalavto-Isuzu plant in the Alabuga special economic zone in 2008. The plant has capacity to produce 25,000 trucks a year.