NEW YORK, June 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The American carmaker General Motors has announced plans to hire 1,500 new workers at its plant in St. Petersburg.
According to the company, the plant will employ 4,000 people by 2015 and double production capacity to 230,000 automobiles a year.
The project is the most significant development for GM’s Russian operations since GM Auto opened in 2008, the company said.
The expansion is provided for in the agreement signed by the company and the Russian Ministry of Economic Development in 2011. According to the agreement, General Motors will invest 1 billion U.S. dollars in its operations in Russia within the next five years.The investment will also support the increase of production at the GM-AVTOVAZ joint venture in Togliatti, Russia, resulting in combined annual Russian production capacity for GM of 350,000 vehicles.
When the expansion is complete, the plant will manufacture Chevrolet and Opel models for the Russian market. Among the additional vehicles that will be produced at GM Auto is the new Opel Astra sedan, which will make its worldwide debut at the Moscow International Motor Show in August.
GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson, Russian Federal Deputy Minister Alexey Rakhmanov, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger joined senior representatives from GM Russia and GM Auto employees at the celebration.
The groundbreaking coincided with GM CEO Dan Akerson's visit to Russia, where he's speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Detroit Free Press said.
The GM Auto plant will produce Chevrolet and Opel vehicles for sale in Russia, including the new Opel Astra sedan.
“General Motors is embarking on a new era in Russia, one of the world's fastest-growing vehicle markets, as part of our strategy to build where we sell,” Akerson said in a statement. “The global vehicles that we produce and the manufacturing systems that we are putting in place are creating long-term benefits for Russia's automotive industry, its supply base and its economy.”
“Our growing investment is the strongest possible endorsement by General Motors of our intent to make Russia a significant part of our international operations. Our vision in Russia, as in all of the other markets where we do business, is to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles,” he said.
During his three-day visit to Russia, Akerson also addressed business leaders and media at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 22. He discussed the importance of investing first in products and technology, being well-positioned for profitable growth and building strong brands that connect with customers worldwide.
According to the Association of European Businesses' Automobile Manufacturers Committee, auto companies sold 1.14 million vehicles in Russia in the first five months of the year, an increase of 15 percent from a year earlier.
GM sold 74,788 Chevrolets in Russia in the first five months of 2012, up 18 percent, and 32,190 Opels, up 34 percent.
Chevrolet was the third most-popular brand in Russia for the first five months of the year, behind Lada and Renault.
General Motors Co. and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling.