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26 Aug, 2009 20:25

Rosauto revs up

Russia's leading automotive producers showed off their latest hardware at the Interauto-2009 Moscow expo. But all the talk was about the fate of 3 motor companies that might gain a new badge - Rosauto.

Industry talk is currently being dominated by Rostechnology's plan to unite its holdings in Avtovaz and Kamaz. The two companies seem to have little in common, other than their holding company and a vehicle manufacturing background .

While the future of Avtovaz looks increasingly uncertain, Kamaz, Russia's biggest truck maker, has weathered the crisis fairly well according to Marketing Head, Ashot Arutunyan

“Kamaz itself feels quite healthy, despite the crisis. We've significantly increased our market share compared to the end of 2008. If we mention the projected automotive holding, Kamaz is not aiming for government investment, we are counting on an effective development strategy.”

Avtovaz has received an estimated $800 million in government support during crisis. Despite that, it's had to lay off workers, and has halted production for several weeks during the year.

The third company set to join Rosauto is Autodiesel – of which 70% belongs to Gaz group, another car maker.

Bo Andersson, the new Gaz CEO, who joined the company in June, wouldn't comment on the Rusauto tie-up, focusing on the strategic development of Gaz itself.

“The restructuring I'm talking about is about what we do inside the Gaz group. As you know we have 6 divisions and 18 plants. We started the restructuring work roughly a year ago – we still have a lot of work to do. Regarding your question on Opel and Sberbank – that’s bigger than me, I’m only talking from Gaz.”

If Magna and Russia's Sberbank win the bid for Opel, Gaz will benefit, producing 180 thousand cars at their plant. And the new CEO, who previously worked at General motors and Saab, would likely be at the wheel of Opel production in Russia.