Volkswagen Sells Its Russia Operations, Together with an Meeting Plant

Volkswagen has offered its meeting plant and different operations in Russia to a neighborhood auto dealership, greater than a 12 months after the German carmaker ceased manufacturing within the nation following the invasion of Ukraine, the corporate stated on Friday.

Underneath the deal, which required approval from the Russian authorities, a Moscow-based dealership known as Avilon acquired the belongings of Volkswagen Group Rus, the carmaker stated. Neither firm specified a gross sales worth, however Russia media citing native information stated Avilon paid about 125 million euros ($135 million).

Volkswagen made the announcement in a terse assertion, however

declined to remark additional on the deal.

The transfer makes Volkswagen the newest European carmaker to withdraw from Russia up to now 12 months, becoming a member of a number of hundred different multinational companies leaving a market the place many spent many years currying and setting up. However outrage over Moscow’s brutal conflict in Ukraine, mixed with the difficulties dealing with powerful financial sanctions geared toward punishing Russia, have made the Russian market much less enticing.

Mercedes-Benz introduced final month that it had offered its Russia division, together with an meeting plant, to Avtodom, a Russian investor, roughly a 12 months after it had suspended native manufacturing and the export of passenger automobiles and vans to Russia. The sale included a restricted repurchase possibility, the corporate stated, however didn’t give any additional particulars.

Final 12 months, the French automaker Renault negotiated a take care of the Russian authorities to promote its 68 % stake in AvtoVAZ, Russia’s greatest carmaker, to a Moscow-based automotive analysis institute often known as NAMI for the worth of 1 ruble, with the choice of resuming enterprise within the nation at a future date.

Volkswagen declined to say whether or not the sale included a clause to return to Russia. Along with its plant, in Kaluga, a metropolis in western Russia, the Volkswagen sale included the corporate’s parts and leasing divisions.

Avilon, based mostly in Moscow, didn’t touch upon the sale and it was not instantly clear what its plans had been for the Kaluga plant.

Earlier than the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Avilon offered Volkswagen automobiles as properly dozens of different Western manufacturers, together with Mercedes-Benz, Jeep and Rolls-Royce. Since final 12 months, it has additionally begun promoting main Chinese language manufacturers, corresponding to Chery, Nice Wall and Zeekr.

Volkswagen spent €774 million constructing the Kaluga plant, which opened in 2007. Two years later, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia flew in by helicopter to have fun the launch of full manufacturing of a number of of the corporate’s best-selling fashions, in addition to fashions from its Skoda line.

The plant had capability to end up 225,000 automobiles a 12 months, practically the variety of automobiles the corporate delivered to prospects in Russia in 2021. Shortly after the invasion in February 2022, Volkswagen ceased operations on the plant. It additionally give up making automobiles at one other plant, in Nizhny Novgorod, that was owned by Russian firm Gaz Group however had been utilized by the German carmaker.

Gaz Group sued Volkswagen over the halt, looking for to freeze the German firm’s belongings in Russia. Final month, a court docket dominated in Volkswagen’s favor.

Over the previous 12 months, the Kaluga plant’s 4,000 staff remained on the payroll as they waited for info over whether or not they can be allowed to return to work. The idle plant was a monetary drain on Volkswagen, which is scrambling to broaden its electrical car choices and revamp its core model. It’s also struggling to stay aggressive in China, the world’s largest auto market, the place the German firm is shedding floor to native manufacturers.

Observers consider that enormous corporations waited for a number of months to gauge the state of affairs earlier than making their determination whether or not to drag out. Giant, multinational corporations that had spent a number of many years constructing provide chains and networks realized that the complexity and attain of these techniques made it troublesome to carry them to a swift halt, stated Sebastian Hoppe, a political economist at Berlin’s Free College who researches Russia.

”The extra suppliers you’ve got in Russia itself, the tougher it’s to drag out and the longer this entire course of takes,” Mr. Hoppe stated.

Carmakers in Russia employed 300,000 folks in 2021 based on the nation’s statistics company, and as much as 3.5 million extra are estimated to work in associated industries. These jobs have been devastated over the previous 12 months, as auto manufacturing has dropped 77 % largely as a result of Western companies have determined to drag up stakes and go away.

Different multinational companies are additionally deciding to show their again on Russia. Henkel, a German maker of washing powder and different family merchandise and Ikea, the Swedish furnishings firm, each offered their factories to native patrons in Russia earlier this 12 months.

The sale of factories and different belongings might have come at a loss, however many Western corporations don’t count on Russia’s economic system to return to regular progress within the close to future.

“What I feel can be essential, it’s after all the case that the Russian market tends to be much less enticing than it was earlier than the conflict,” Mr. Hoppe stated.

Volkswagen Sells Its Russia Operations, Together with an Meeting Plant – EAST AUTO NEWS


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