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Moskvich plant starts work on own platform for electric car, Mayor Sobyanin says

Christian Fernsby |
Moskvich Moscow Automobile Plant will begin developing its own platform for an eponymous electric vehicle concurrently with the launch of production of automobiles with internal combustion engines, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

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"Together with our technology partners we have set out a program for the resumption of operations at the plant, now already under the name Moskvich," Sobyanin said during a visit to the plant and the signing of an agreement between the Moscow city government and truck maker Kamaz to cooperate on the development of cars.

"At the first stage we will engage in direct knocked down (DKD) assembly of vehicles from friendly countries, at the second stage there will be deeper localization of this production, well, and concurrently with this process, without directly waiting for some first results, beginning today we are starting work on creating our own electric vehicle platform under the name Moskvich," Sobyanin said.

He said the planned work is complex and there are many "logistical, technological and financial challenges."

"But I promise you that we will do everything for the plant to work, jobs to be preserved and, well, people to get a modern, high quality automobile," Sobyanin said, addressing the plant's workers and thanking them for their patience.

Kamaz CEO Sergei Kogogin said it is an honor for his company to partner with the Moscow government on this project.

"It's so turned out that our car industry in the current conditions of sanctions pressure has ended up beyond the pale, frankly speaking, just dead. [...] Having a professional team is the key issue, [thanks to] which we are ready to work on this project. Friendly countries at this point are happy to provide their services with the aim of filling the Russian market," Kogogin said.

"The possibilities in the current circumstances given our design skills are very big [and] we are confident that we will manage to make a product that is localized and carries weight in a short period of time," Kogogin said, adding that Kamaz has followed trends in car production, including electric vehicles, in recent years "just in case."

French automaker Renault, which had owned the Moscow auto plant since 1998, announced in March 2022 that it was closing the plant and leaving the Russian market. The CJSC Renault Russia plant was handed over to the Moscow city government in May and renamed JSC Moskvich Moscow Automobile Plant.

The Moscow authorities said that in order to start manufacturing completely Russian vehicles at the plant it would be necessary to develop the plant's own modern universal platform and set up production of key domestic auto components. The city signed an agreement with Kamaz to accelerate these efforts.

Kamaz will provide the plant with the necessary components from friendly countries for DKD assembly, which will start this year, the city government's press service said.

The parties agreed to preserve the plant's team of professionals, and develop a dealership network and after-sales service, and they plan to work out an eight-year strategy to develop the plant, setting out the timeframe and conditions for setting up and developing production, it said.

The parties agreed on the targeted stages of operations, starting with DKD assembly of at least 600 vehicles by December 31, 2022, including about 200 with electric motors; at least 50,000 in 2023, including about 10,000 with electric motors; and at least 100,000 in 2024, including about 20,000 with electric motors, city hall said.

The second stage will see the start of completely knocked down (CKD) assembly by December 31, 2024.

The first stage will involve DKD assembly of two types of cars, one with an internal combustion engine and the other completely electric, the city said. Components will be supplied from friendly countries, from various manufacturers.

Concurrently, Moscow city hall and Kamaz, with the support of the Russian government, are already now starting work on developing a new Russian universal platform for modern cars and organizing production of key components such as electric motors, batteries, control and safety systems, and many others, the press service said.

In the second stage, there are plans to significantly expand the use of Russian components in assembled cars, including body parts, power steering systems and brake systems. In the third stage, Moskvich will start producing a domestic electric vehicle from key Russian components, including electric motors, batteries and safety and control systems.

"The Moscow government, together with the government of Russia, are putting together a long-term order for Moskvich products, and will also invest in the development of the auto component base. This will result in the creation of full-scale domestic automobile production that includes the flagship Moscow plant and several hundred suppliers of auto components.

This will make it possible to localize critically important auto industry technologies in Russia and provide jobs for about 40,000 people," the city said.

The Moskvich plant's priority will be to manufacture electric vehicles, both for personal and urban transport, such as for taxi and car sharing services in Moscow, the surrounding region, and other regions of Central Russia and major urban areas of the country.

Annual demand for taxi and car sharing services in Moscow and Moscow Region alone is estimated at 40,000-60,000 electric vehicles, the city said.

In addition, a competency center for development of production of urban electric transport will be set up with the support of the Russian president and government, Kamaz and Moscow research institutes. Given its professional and qualified employees, the Moskvich plant will become the primary industrial facility for the center.

Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said the federal government will provide support in the form of subsidized loans under the Industrial Development Fund (IDF) program for localization of components and subsidies for research and development.

"We will certainly support the work of the Moscow government and Kamaz to set up production of automobiles at the Moskvich plant. For localization of components, funds can be allocated in the form of subsidized loans under the special program of the Industrial Development Fund, while development of a new Russian universal platform will be able to receive support in the form of subsidies for R&D," Manturov was quoted as saying in the statement.

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