Russia has approached Chinese companies for help re-launching the historic “Moskvitch” brand, according to Vedomosti, which cites two sources with knowledge of the matter.
On Monday, French car giant Renault agreed to hand over its 68% stake in AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest car manufacturer, to the Russian state automobile institute. Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that the government had plans to resume manufacturing at AvtoVAZ under the Soviet-era “Moskvitch” brand, praising the handover as a way of saving Russian jobs.
Moskvitch, which means “Muscovite”, started building its own cars 1950s. The brand hoped that its Russian-built models would compete with international car brands. But Moskvitch ceased production years ago.
Reports initially emerged saying that the Russian government had enlisted the help of truck manufacturer KAMAZ to support the Moskvitch operation. Now, Vedomosti reports that KAMAZ is seeking the support of a Chinese partner, state-owned carmaker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. (JAC).
KAMAZ reportedly hopes that JAC will provide parts and designs for the new vehicles which AvtoVAZ will build. JAC has previously provided parts for KAMAZ models.
At the same time, Izvestiya reports that Russia’s government is in talks with Chinese car manufacturers BYD and FAW, hoping to secure extra support for the venture.
The Kremlin reportedly hopes to start building the first Moskvitch cars as early as late 2022, but the timeframe seems very ambitious. Renault cited a shortage of components as one of the reasons for its exit from Russia, with supply problems and sanctions complicating the procurement process. AvtoVAZ recently announced that it will keep workers furloughed for at least the next week, as a shortage of parts renders production impossible.