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A Visit to Togliatti: Motor City, Russia

June 26- Togliatti, Russia – Founded as an 18th Century fortress along the Volga River, Russia’s Motor City took its name of Togliatti from an Italian official who helped to expand its car business in the 1960s.

Since AvtoVAZ built its huge central Russian plant with Fiat, over 27 million Lada vehicles have been produced.

Over 70% of Togliatti’s industry comes from auto parts and vehicles, with hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from the Renault-Nissan Alliance, as well as other private and governmental support.

The Lada Largus and Nissan Almera now roll out daily, while some 1.2 million vehicles will be made annually by 2020.

President Vladimir Putin said at the Largus debut in spring of 2012 that Russia’s largest automaker, AvtoVAZ, was back and thriving.

“Over the last year you have sold over 600,000 cars, and in sales volume Russia has firmly attained the second place in the world and in Europe,” President Putin said.

Togliatti is one of the Alliance’s largest platform-sharing programs, and the new Lada is based on a Renault Logan chassis, while expansion at the plant will include the Datsun brand with production eventually spanning five Alliance models as Russian demand ramps up.

Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, who visited Togliatti this week, says it is a win-win for all partners.

“It’s a win-win because at the end of the day we are already the largest automotive group in Russia with more than 30% market share and our ambition is to become even larger in Russia with the common goal of 40% market share. This 40% market share should be with growth from each one of the brands – Lada from one side, Renault from the other side, and Nissan plus Datsun from the third side,” said Ghosn.

According to PwC, new passenger car sales rose 10% and revenues 21% last year, while foreign models assembled in Russia expanded market share to 44%.

Nissan’s Datsun is planning for a 2014 car launch in the country,  and Russia Director Jerome Saigot says local capacity is backed up by parts supply.

“So within the Alliance, AvtoVAZ is a fantastic opportunity for Datsun to locally produce the car,” Saigot said.

“This production will be backed up by Japanese engineers, and we will deliver our car to customers with a very good level of quality, which the Datsun badge deserves.”

The former fortress turned car giant has been key to that growth In Russia, widely seen as Europe’s best, but many global automakers are expanding operations in the nation, making the Motor City’s success an essential for the Alliance.

BRICs, Cars, Europe, Product Launch, Production, Renault-Nissan Alliance, Research and Development

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