As Renault Exits Russia, Soviet-Era Carmaker Moskvich Could Be Coming Back
Russia could be reviving an automobile brand from its past following French automaker Renault’s exit from the market.
According to Reuters, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that Renault’s factories will be nationalized and used to produce a new model of Moskvich, a name which means “a native of Moscow”.
“The foreign owner has decided to close the Moscow Renault plant. It has the right to do this, but we cannot allow thousands of workers to be left without work”, Sobyanin said on his web blog. “In 2022, we will open a new page in the history of the Moskvich.”
The plant has a “long and glorious history”, according to Sobyanin, starting with the production of Ford vehicles almost 100 years ago, and Moskvich cars up until 1998 when Renault entered the market.
Renault sold 100 percent of its shares to Moscow City, as well as its stake in Russian manufacturer Avtovaz to a Russian science institute for 1 symbolic Rouble. The French carmaker still has a deal in place where it could reacquire the assets within six years of the sale, but it’s possible that Moscow could already have production up and running before that point.
“It takes at least two years and at least $1 billion to develop a new car,” said Autostat analytical agency head Sergei Tselikov. The brand will begin selling traditional ICE vehicles before potentially moving on to electric powerplants.
In order to build the vehicles, truck maker Kamaz will act as the brand’s main technological partner, while Sobyanin has also asked Russia’s trade ministry to source as many parts from Russian manufacturers as possible.
Kamaz said in a statement that it supports the mayor’s decision, but would make an official statement about the partnership once issues with technical cooperation were discussed and resolved.
According to Autostat, there are almost 200,000 Moskvich cars still registered in Russia, 46,000 of which are more than 35 years old. The vehicles were built cheap and sturdy, using parts made in Russia and East Germany, but the brand went bankrupt in 2006 following its privatization and the collapse of the Soviet Union.