Days after Vladimir Putin, well, encouraged foreign carmakers to come to Russia, open car factories and better bring the latest technology, or else, Martin Winterkorn announced that Volkswagen is planning a new assembly line at Russia’s GAZ and that they will expand their factory in the Kaluga region in the future. Winterkorn said that after meeting Putin himself and most likely after having received a similar speech as what was previously broadcasted.
“The development of the Russian market has led to the result that our existing capacity is already not enough,” Winterkorn told Putin, according to Reuters. The Kaluga factory has a capacity to produce 150,000 cars per year, but Volkswagen expects to sell 360,000 cars in Russia by 2018. (Why the hell is everything at Volkswagen tied to 2018? Because it coincides with the 100 year anniversary of an event that was not one of the most glorious in Germany’s history?)
Russia had been feted as Europe’s leading car market, until sales imploded in 2009.
GAZ is part of tycoon Oleg Deripaska’s business empire, the same Deripaska that wanted to enter an alliance with Opel and Magna. And we all know how that ended.
Currently, GAZ has no foreign partner. GAZ had bought a previous generation Chrysler Sebring line from Chrysler. It has a capacity of 150,000 cars a year, but “is currently idle,” says Reuters.
GAZ confirmed to Reuters that they are in talks with Volkswagen over the assembly line, details were disclosed. But if Winterkorn and Putin say so … The two probably got along just fine. Putin speaks fluent German. From 1985 to 1990, Putin was the KGB’s rezident in Dresden, in charge of industrial, well, research.