OEM mixed response to Russia's plunging auto market

Auto manufacturers are giving a mixed response to Russia's plunging market.

General Motors is set to remove its Opel brand from the Russian market by the end of the year, with the company focussing on selling premium Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles.  The St. Petersburg plant - which assembles Opel Astra, Chevrolet Cruze, and Cadillac ATS, CTS, Escalade and SRX models from kits - will be idled for eight weeks, having seen Chevrolet sales across Russia plunge 71% and Opel 82% in the first two months

Despite Nissan stating that the nation remains an important long-term investment, the company has responded to weak sales, suspending production in its St. Petersburg plant between 16th and 31st March. Sales of Nissan vehicles fell 45% to 9,447 in February, according to data from the Association of European Businesses.

In a more optimistic approach, Ford's joint venture with Sollers includes launching four models in Russia this year. Two of the joint venture's four crossovers are built locally. The company will also open an engine factory in Tatarstan in addition to its three vehicle plants.

"Our position hasn't changed. We believe Russia has significant potential in the longer term," a Ford spokesman said. "We are working very intensively ... really looking into every single area of the business every day to cut costs and ensure we match production at our three plants to real demand while dealing with the difficult pricing environment."