19 May 2022 11:58

Renault's former Moscow plant to build Chinese cars under Moskvich brand - paper

MOSCOW. May 19 (Interfax) - Russian truck maker Kamaz might set up production of the automobiles of its Chinese partner JAC under the Soviet-era Moskvich brand at the former Renault Russia plant (formerly Avtoframos) that French automaker Renault has handed over to Moscow, business daily Vedomosti reported on Thursday.

Two sources familiar with Kamaz's plans told the paper that the company will localize production of Chinese automobiles at the Moscow plant. One of the sources said Kamaz is holding negotiations with Chinese automaker JAC, with which it launched the light Compass truck at the beginning of this year. The Compass is essentially a JAC truck adapted to Russian conditions.

Production at the Moscow plant is expected to start no later than in the fourth quarter of 2022 with conventional internal combustion engine cars. There are plans to later switch to electric vehicles.

However, the Moscow authorities are also exploring cooperation with other Chinese automakers, but it is not known which ones, one of the paper's sources said.

Kamaz and Moscow city hall declined to comment. A spokesman for Russia's Industry and Trade Ministry said that the concept for production of Moskvich cars at the plant will be presented soon by the Moscow city government and Kamaz, the paper said.

JAC's iEV7 electric vehicles were used in Russia for the Crimean carsharing project MoreElectric, which shut down in the fall of 2021. Sollers Avto planned to use this model for its electric carsharing project with RusHydro in Vladivostok. The company leased the first 15 cars for this service at the beginning of the year and planned to expand its fleet to 70 vehicles by summer.

At the moment, JAC's iEV7 is the only budget electric crossover officially approved in Russia and with official service support in the country from the distributor, Sollers told Interfax in mid-February. "We also expect other brands to enter the market and will explore them," the company said.

Vedomosti's source said that Kamaz is considering the more compact JAC iEVS4 model for localization in Moscow. Initially, it will probably be SKD assembly of kits with subsequent deepening of localization as production grows, the other source said. The iEVS4 has a counterpart with a gasoline engine, the S4.

However, a fundamental decision on the model to be produced in Moscow has not been made yet, the paper's sources said.

Vedomosti reported a source close to Kamaz as saying that the company's Kama compact electric car project has nothing to do with the plans being discussed for localizing production of automobiles at the former Renault plant.