General Motors Co. will stop production at its St. Petersburg site in Russia for more than a month in the summer, from July 22 to August 24, 2013. This year’s summer shutdown is longer than in 2012, when GM stopped production for just two weeks at the plant, where it builds the Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Opel Astra models.
According to GM Russia spokesman Sergei Lepnukhov, the extended summer shutdown was in response to slowing demand in Russia. He disclosed that during the break, GM plans to start expanding the capacity of the St. Petersburg site. The carmaker wants to hike the site’s annual capacity to 230,000 units by 2016 from the current 98,000.
The move comes after GM’s sales in Russia dropped 8 percent to 99,000 in the first five months of 2013, according to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses (AEB). Following record growth in 2012, the Russian vehicle market is slowing down in response to a cooling economy.
The AEB expects the Russian car market to drop by 5 percent to 2.8 million units this year. GM, meanwhile, is expanding its joint venture with Russian carmarker AvtoVAZ in Togliatti. The partners recently commenced building the $200-million components site that will produce parts for the Chevrolet Niva SUV., which may be unveiled at the 2014 Moscow auto show.
The site will house a body shop with an annual capacity of 120,000 units as well as a press shop. The partners will start production at the site in November 2015. Jeff Glover, GM-AvtoVAZ's outgoing general director, remarked that site will remove “some roadblocks in volumes." The shops are part of the carmaker’s plans to increase its total output in Russia to 350,000 vehicles a year by 2016.