Production began Friday of a new generation of the BMW 5 Series at the Avtotor factory in Kaliningrad. According to the general director of BMW Russland Trading, Kristian Kramer, it is for now the only foreign car manufacturer that the Bavarian automobile company has entrusted with production of its premium class models.
The general director of the Avtotor Holding group of companies, Valerii Sokolov, said that the project was a joint undertaking by the concern and BMW. The total investment in the project amounts to 6 million euros, which will be spent on the retraining of technicians and the upgrading of equipment, and will ensure that the concern's production will meet the high manufacturing standards of their German counterparts.
Cooperation with the Avtotor concern began in 1999. Since then, more than 4,200 BMW 5 and 3 Series have rolled off the production line. A trial production of the luxury class 'Sedans' assembled here have already won acclaim as 'Russian car of the year' in the new car category. More than 1,500 cars are expected to be produced by the end of the year, each one costing 44,900 euros, which is 12% lower than the cost of cars assembled in Germany.
The Kaliningrad-based Avtotor Holding was established in 1996. Stockholders in the concern include the investment company Doyen B.V., with 88.04% ownership, and the closed joint-stock company National Fund, with a 11.96% stake.
Avtotor consists of two automobile assembly plants, with a projected capacity of 50,000 cars per year. Since 1994, more than USD 250 million has been invested in the manufacturing facilities, and Avtotor has since then been assembling light cars, off-road vehicles, KIA mini-vans, and since 1999 BMW 'Sedans.' The Kaliningrad auto manufacturers plan to produce 20,000 automobiles in 2004.