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28 Jul, 2008 02:36

Volga drives into the future with new Siber

Russia’s Volga car plant has launched production of the new Volga Siber. The car is the result of a $300 Million joint project by Russia’s Gaz group and Canada’s Magna car parts maker.

The pride of the Soviet Union. First produced in 1956, Volga cars were the favoured ride of party officials and the security services. Later on they were used as taxis and ambulances.

What was once a status symbol in soviet society is now making a transition into a brand for the middle class. Volga has survived growing foreign competition but has had to adapt. The new generation Volga Syber is only 30 per cent Russian.

The 300 million dollar project uses foreign technologies and machinery. Gaz bought a Chrysler car plant from Michigan, USA to make the new Volga. Eighty five percent of the high-tech production line work is done by robots. Magna representative, Albrecht Bochow, says the support of Magna was in the production line and supply chain.

Production line support, and we had supply chain support, so for the production line and for the setup of all the systems we had a team of colleagues from Magna-Steyr.

However GAZ hopes to increase the proportion of domestically produced car parts to 50 percent, with Andrey Slepushin, Siber production director, saying cost factors will drive this.

We simply cant afford to continue buying car parts from abroad. Currently are now working on a new programme of localization of car parts production. We don't exclude the possibility that it will also be a joint project with Magna.

The new Volga Siber will cost over 20 something thousand dollars depending on specifications. The plant plans to initially produce 65,000 cars a year.