Think quick: you’re GM — what would you do upon learning of a rapidly-growing automotive market? If you answered something along the lines of “dive in head first”, then you’re right on the money of The General’s new-found strategy in Russia — one of the fastest-growing vehicle markets in the world.
Today, General Motors celebrated the groundbreaking of the expansion of GM Auto — the automaker’s wholly-owned manufacturing facility in St. Petersbrug, Russia (where yours truly was born, by the way). The development will more than double GM’s annual production capacity at the plant from the current 98,000 vehicles to 230,000 by 2015. The expansion is described by GM as “the most significant development for GM’s Russian operations since GM Auto opened in 2008.”
As a result of the expansion, employment at the plant will grow from 2,500 currently to 4,000 workers, who will produce Chevrolet and Opel models for the Russian market. One of these models, for instance, will be the recently-unveiled Opel Astra sedan.
In addition, the next five years will see GM invest $1 billion in its Russian operations, a move that will also result in a 50,000 unit production increase (from 70,000 to 120,000 units) at the GM-AVTOVAZ joint venture that makes the budget Chevy Niva in the city of Togliatti, Russia.
Once everything is said and done, GM will have an annual production capacity of 350,000 vehicles in Russia, right in line with the automaker’s strategy to “build where we sell”.
Pictured: General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson (left) greets former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (Right) on Friday, June 22, 2012, before the groundbreaking for the expansion of GM Auto, its wholly owned manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg, Russia.