Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's largest automaker, will invest US$400 million to build its first factory in Russia to meet surging demand in the country.
The carmaker will produce 100,000 vehicles annually at the plant in St Petersburg, the Seoul-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Construction will start in the first half of next year and completion is slated for 2010, it said.
Hyundai Motor joins Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors Corp in setting up factories in Russia, where a nine-year economic boom has increased car sales. The country provides an opportunity for growth for automakers as a record US$16 billion were spent on new foreign cars in the first half, fueled by rising incomes, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said.
MORE MONEY, MORE CARS
"The economic growth in Russia is encouraging people to spend more on cars, and that means setting up a plant will provide further opportunities for Hyundai Motor to increase sales," said Song Sang-hoon, an analyst at Hungkuk Securities Co in Seoul with a "buy" recommendation on Hyundai's shares.
The South Korean carmaker didn't disclose which models it will produce at the Russian plant, which was first announced on Nov. 12. Russia is the sixth overseas country in which it will have a factory.
In the first 11 months, Hyundai Motor sold 130,166 of its Accent, Getz and other models in Russia, more than the 100,685 it sold during all of last year. Sales last month reached 17,992 vehicles, its biggest monthly total in the country.
A total of 1.47 million foreign cars were sold in the first 11 months of this year in Russia, 63 percent more than a year earlier, according to the Moscow-based Association of European Business in the Russian Federation.
Hyundai Motor operates overseas factories in China, India, Turkey and the US and is building one in the Czech Republic to meet local demand and counter the impact of currency fluctuations.
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