Opel will commence kit production of its Corsa subcompact car in Belarus for sale in Russia and nearby markets. Opel, along with joint-venture partner Unison JSC, plans to assemble 7,000 cars in 2014 at Unison's Minsk site in Belarus. The partners will assemble the Corsa subcompact from semi-knockdown kits sourced from Opel's site in Germany and Spain.
Assembling vehicles in this manner allows carmakers to skirt import duties without incurring much costs. The Belarus site will only have to perform a little work since much of the production process was already carried out at Opel’s manufacturing sites in Eisenach, Germany, and in Zaragoza, Spain.
The production agreement lasts until 2017, with an option to include more vehicle models. In a statement, Opel's manufacturing chief Peter Thom remarked that with the production of the Corsa in Belarus, the carmaker is implementing a strategy of building vehicles where they are planned to be sold.
He added that the delivery of assembly kits to a developing market like Belarus would mean more output at Opel’s Eisenach and Zaragoza sites. Opel disclosed it will produce both the three- and five-door models currently sold in the region, with the OPC variant to remain to be imported from Europe.
Opel posted a 3-percent rise in sales in Russia in the first five months of 2012, according to data from the Association of European Businesses (AEB). Opel’s parent General Motors suffered deeper losses in Europe in 2012 to $1.8 billion and is seeing only a slight improvement in 2013. GM relies mostly on consumer in Italy, France and Spain as well as Russia and Turkey.
“We are happy to start cooperation with UNISON recognizing their many years of assembly expertise, professional personnel and perfect positioning in terms of parts supply from Europe and finished products logistics to the Customs Union markets”, says GM Russia and CIS President and Managing Director James Bovenzi.