The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, said Thursday that production of Moskvich vehicles will restart in December at a plant that was sold by Renault more than six months ago.
Plans to relaunch the Moskvich brand (which is Russian for resident of Moscow) emerged in May when Sobyanin said that the plant would be nationalized in order to preserve the jobs of the people who worked at the facility.
The plant, renamed the Moscow Automobile Factory Moskvich per Reuters, has since stood idle, something that the mayor blames on the wider automotive market.
“The automobile industry has seriously flopped this year, but nevertheless, I hope that we can launch the Moskvich plant in December with the help of the Industry and Trade Ministry,” Sobyanin is quoted as saying by Interfax.
More: As Renault Exits Russia, Soviet-Era Carmaker Moskvich Could Be Coming Back
The plant, meanwhile, said it hopes to produce 600 cars this year, including 200 EVs. It claims that Moscow has all of the necessary expertise to become the center of an electric vehicle industry.
Those production numbers are just a foretaste of what is to come, however, as the plant expects to be able to pick up speed next year and to produce 50,000 vehicles in 2023. The factory will be the recipient of 5 billion rubles ($81 million USD at current exchange rates) in investments from Moscow and Russian truckmaker Kamaz.
The decision to relaunch Moskvich followed Renault’s exit from the market, which was itself precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The French automaker, which had been a majority stakeholder in Avtovaz, reportedly sold its Russian assets for just one ruble ($0.016 USD), albeit with the option of buying back its stake over the next six years.
“Today, we have taken a difficult but necessary decision and we are making a responsible choice towards our 45,000 employees in Russia, while preserving the Group’s performance and our ability to return to the country in the future, in a different context,” said Luca de Meo, Renault Group CEO, at the time. “I am confident in the Renault Group’s ability to further accelerate its transformation and exceed its mid-term targets.”