Russia Reproduces Old Car Brand with Chinese Design

Russia has re-launched the production of its Soviet-era car brand Moskvich after a two decade pause at a plant near Moscow given up by the French automaker Renault. The new model has a model Chinese design and looks identical to Sehol X4 compact crossover manufactured by China’s JAC. JAC’s design, engineering and platform are being used for Russia’s new car and the vehicles shown at the launch had JAC stickers on some parts.

The Moscow plant is reluctant to confirm that JAC is a partner.

“We have (Russian truck maker) Kamaz as an external partner and we have a long-distance partner we are working with,” the company said without naming that partner.

The Moskvich manufacturer also said the cars would have ABS systems, which have been forced to remove from Russian automaker Avtovaz’s Lada models because of Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia had sold its majority stake in Avtovaz back in May to the Russian state for one rouble, but placed a buy-option on the agreement within six years. The French automaker also sold its plant, now renamed the Moscow Automobile Factory Moskvich, for another rouble.

With just 600 vehicles slated for production this year, the new car is unlikely to alter the gloomy outlook for the wider industry, the annual sales of which could end the year below 1 million for the first time in Russia’s modern history.

The government’s ultimate target of producing 100,000 Moskvich vehicles a year, some of which will be electric, is far below the industry average for a car plant of 200,000-300,000.

“The first Moskvich cars will come off the production line in December 2022,” Kamaz said in a statement.

Because of Western sanctions on Russia, the country’s automotive industry has been hampered by both the exit of Western companies and difficulty to access foreign-made components.

“The task for the near future is to establish small-node assembly processes with the involvement of local suppliers by the end of 2023,” Industry and Trade Minister Manturov said in a statement.

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