Soviet-era Moskvich car in a junkyard near Moscow (picture from 2013)
Photo: Tatyana Makeyeva / REUTERS
Series production of a new model of the Soviet cult car Moskvich has started in Moscow – after Western sanctions put pressure on the Russian car industry.
According to the Interfax news agency, Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attended the reopening of the Moskvich plant after the departure of the previous major shareholder Renault.
The Moskvich-3 is therefore a copy of the Chinese city SUV JAC S4.
In Russia, it will initially be manufactured as a petrol engine with a 150 hp engine.
An electric version should also roll off the assembly line by the end of the year, it said.
The sale is planned for the first quarter of 2023.
"The task for the near future is to establish small assembly processes involving local suppliers by the end of 2023," the industry and trade minister said in a statement.
Moscow speaks of 40,000 jobs
The Russian Ministry of Industry announced that Moskvich production secured around 40,000 jobs in Russia.
The auto sector is one of the industries hardest hit by sanctions imposed by Western states over Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.
From January to October, new car sales in Russia fell 60 percent year-on-year after the departure of Western manufacturers.
The Moskvitch was produced in the Soviet Union since 1946 - initially as a copy of the German Opel Kadett.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the plant ran into financial difficulties.
Production of the last mass-produced Moskvich model 2141 ("Svyatogor") was discontinued in 2001 because it was not competitive.
Insolvency proceedings were initiated against the group in 2006.
Renault later took over the plant and secured the jobs.