Former BMW plant in Russia launches production of Chinese cars 

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JMC and Avtotor have agreed to phase in full-cycle production at the assembly line in Kaliningrad 

The Avtotor plant in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad has begun manufacturing Chinese commercial JMC vehicles, the company announced on Wednesday.  

Three models of the Chinese brand have entered production at the plant, which previously assembled German BMW and South Korean Hyundai and Kia cars.

“The Kaliningrad automaker Avtotor is cooperating with the Chinese company JMC in the production of high-tech commercial vehicles. The production of three models of the brand – the compact urban commercial vehicle Carrying, the universal commercial vehicle Conquer, and the Vigus pickup truck – has started,” the company announced.   

Avtotor and JMC have agreed to phase in full-cycle manufacturing – which includes welding, painting, and assembly – and boost production capacity once the project proves cost-effective.   

In January, the Russian carmaker began producing Chinese Kaiyi cars and in April announced the launch of the BAIC and SWM assembly – both also Chinese.   

Chinese brands have become major players on the Russian car market, filling the void left by Western firms and also reflecting China’s growing importance to the country’s economy.   

The popularity of Chinese automobiles in Russia has been rising amid the exodus of European, American, Japanese, and South Korean brands. Many automakers found it difficult to continue operations in the country due to logistical disruptions resulting from Western sanctions, particularly after deliveries of cars and spare parts to Russia were halted.   

Avtotor was founded in 1994 in Kaliningrad and was the first plant in Russia to assemble foreign cars. It has a production capacity of 250,000 cars per year.

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