Russia relaunches production of Soviet-era Moskvich at ex-Renault plant

A formerly defunct vehicle will be resurrected and brought back to life in Russia.

 A Soviet-era Moskvich 408 of 1966 is pictured on the embankment of the Moskva River in Moscow (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Soviet-era Moskvich 408 of 1966 is pictured on the embankment of the Moskva River in Moscow
(photo credit: REUTERS)

After a two-decade hiatus, Russia on Wednesday relaunched production of the Soviet-era Moskvich car at French carmaker Renault's former plant in Moscow, truckmaker Kamaz, the plant's technological partner, said.

Renault RENA.PA sold its majority stake in carmaker Avtovaz in May to the Russian state for reportedly just one rouble, but with a six-year option to buy it back. It sold its plant south of Moscow, now renamed the Moscow Automobile Factory Moskvich, for another rouble.

How many vehicles have been ordered?

With just 600 vehicles slated for production this year, the relaunch is unlikely to alter the gloomy outlook for the wider industry, whose annual sales could end the year below 1 million for the first time in the country's modern history.

The ultimate target of producing 100,000 vehicles a year, some of which will be electric, falls far below the industry average for a car plant of between 200,000-300,000. Tesla makes around 22,000 cars per week at its Shanghai plant.

"The first Moskvich cars will come off the production line in December 2022," Kamaz said in a statement. "The Moskvich 3 would be the first model."

 A boy drives a children's car during a gathering of Soviet-era Moskvich cars owners and enthusiasts in Moscow (credit: REUTERS) A boy drives a children's car during a gathering of Soviet-era Moskvich cars owners and enthusiasts in Moscow (credit: REUTERS)

The revived Moskvich, which translates as 'native of Moscow', may be returning with a twist. Sources have told Reuters that Chinese carmaker JAC's design, engineering and production platform will be used to produce the brand.