30 Jan 2024 15:04

SPB Auto Plant to produce vehicles under Xcite brand, sales due to begin in spring

MOSCOW. Jan 30 (Interfax) - St. Petersburg Auto Plant LLC, formerly a Nissan production site, will produce several models of passenger cars under the Xcite brand, with the start of sales in the Russian market scheduled for the first half of the year, the company's press service said in a statement.

The auto plant has already assembled its first batch of several thousand cars. "Inventory is being accumulated to ensure the start of sales in the spring of 2024. Work is ongoing on forming the new brand's team and negotiations with Russia's largest dealer networks," the company said.

The medium-term development plan for the St. Petersburg site envisages launching production of "a number of models in close cooperation with international partners." "This will provide more choice in the new car market in Russia, return the automotive manufacturing sector in the region back to a high level, and preserve and boost jobs," the company said.

The Xcite brand intends to offer consumers a product that takes into account the lifestyle and operating conditions of Russia. The brand name is derived from the English verb to excite. According to the plant's press service, the brand is designed to "inspire its owners to enjoy life with family and friends". The brand name is also intended to emphasize the off-road nature of the model range.

The company did not disclose details about the model range and foreign partner of the project.

The assets of the St. Petersburg automobile plant, where Xcite brand vehicles will now be produced, were formerly owned by Nissan, whose plant was in operation from 2009 to 2022. After the Japanese concern's decision to leave Russia, the plant was transferred for a symbolic price to FSUE NAMI, subordinate to the Industry and Trade Ministry, with a buy-back option. The state enterprise later sold 99% of the plant to Avtovaz also as part of a symbolic deal.

Having become a production partner of the plant, Avtovaz began large-scale assembly of cars under the Lada brand in the summer of 2023. The first model at the new stage of operations was the Lada X-Cross 5 front-wheel drive urban crossover with a 160-horsepower turbocharged engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It is based on the FAW Bestune T77 model of Chinese automaker FAW. However, as the Russian Car telegram channel reported in the fall, the partnership between Avtovaz and FAW did not work out, and the site in St. Petersburg stopped assembly. Avtovaz provided no comment on the situation.

The current owners of St. Petersburg Auto Plant have not been disclosed.