By on August 27, 2012

Next week, Russian and Japanese dignitaries will assemble in the frigid Siberian port city of Vladivostok to celebrate the opening of the first Japanese car plant in the Russian Far East.  On September 6, Mazda will start Russian production of its best-selling CX-5 SUV and the new Mazda6 sedan, says The Nikkei [sub] – most likely after having received an invitation.

The cars will be made in a joint venture between Mazda and Russian automaker OJSC Sollers at its Vladivostok plant. Toyota is planned to follow. Sollers is supposed to assemble the Land Cruiser Prado 4×4 in Russia. All will be built from Made-in-Japan kits.

Fiat-Chrysler was at one time supposed to join the Japanese in Siberia, but the project was scrapped. When that happened, Sollers sidled-up to Ford.

Vladivostok is in an ideal location for Japan, just 450 miles across the occasionally troubled waters. The city was a prime export destination for used Japanese cars. Many cars in the region are RHD, despite Russia driving on the right. The importation of new and used cars to Russia came to a grinding halt due to high new customs tariffs.

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