Korean automaker Hyundai is interested in purchasing the former General Motors plant in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The automaker expressed interest in buying the plant from GM last year, but it was not clear if it intended to go through with the acquisition until this week after it requested approval of the sale from the Russian anti-trust body. A Hyundai spokesperson said Russia’s anti-trust regulator “will decide whether Hyundai will move to the next step after reviewing the documents,” in the coming weeks.
Hyundai already has a separate vehicle production plant in St. Petersburg, which produces a number of smaller vehicles including the Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio subcompact cars and the Hyundai Creta subcompact crossover. It is expected to produce small-to-midsize crossovers at the former GM plant, including the popular Hyundai Tucson crossover.
Hyundai/Kia sold a total of 404,710 vehicles in Russia in 2019, making it the best-selling automaker in the country. The Korean company even outpaced local automaker Avtovaz, which only managed to move 362,352 units last year. Avtovaz owns the rights to the long-standing Russian vehicle brand Lada.
Additionally, the company has sold more vehicles than any other automaker in Russia in the first six months of 2020 despite obvious setbacks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement released earlier this year, the company said it intends to “expand market share and defend profitability with the Creta SUV at the center,” in Russia throughout 2020. The Creta is a front-wheel-drive subcompact crossover that is marketed as the Venue in the United States and Canada.
GM completed work on the $300 million St. Petersburg plant in 2008, but closed the facility in 2015 after deciding to pull out of mainstream segments in the country. The plant, which had an annual production capacity of 100,000 units under GM’s control, produced the Chevrolet Cruze, Opel Astra and global Chevrolet Trailblazer. The Cadillac brand is still sold in Russia, though vehicles are imported into the country from other GM plants and are not built locally.
It’s currently not clear when the Russian anti-trust regulator will review and respond to Hyundai’s request. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to GM Authority for more GM-related Russian market news and around-the-clock GM news coverage.