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Toyota starts production in St. Petersburg

One of the world biggest car manufacturers, Toyota, has started producing vehicles in Russia. Vladimir Putin traveled to a factory in Saint Petersburg to see the first batch of Russian-made Toyota Camrys.

In recent years Saint Petersburg is luring one car maker after another. GM, Nissan, Suzuki and, of course, Toyota are all vying for their share of Russia's growing car market

Toyota is planning to produce 20,000 cars at the start, 50,000 at full capacity. And unlike most of its foreign rivals, who are catering for demand for budget cars, the new plant will producer the Camry model, executive sedans priced at about $US 40,000.

But Toyota's management says in Russia there are enough people with enough money

“We want to create in Russia a car manufacturing plant, which will be one of the leading ones in the world. In the long term, we plan for production to increase up to 200 thousand cars a year. But I'm happy many Russians can already afford themselves to buy these kind of cars,” Katsuki Watanabe, Toyota CEO, said. 

Toyota Camry in production
Toyota Camry in production

Many car makers talks about expansion in Russia as their strategic goal, and this is not just ingratiating rhetoric.

By 2015 the Russian market is expected to surpass Germany to become Europe's largest and this makes it a strategic industry in the eyes of the state as well.

“This is a very important project not only for Saint Petersburg and the region, but also for the whole of Russia, because it's the first serious step in setting up an industry of the full cycle of car production in one city. The company and the venture created in Russia have a task to provide quite a receptive Russian market with its products and enter the market of the European countries,” Vladimir Putin stressed.