GM to extend summer break at St Petersburg site to a month

Article by Anita Panait, on June 19, 2013

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.

Opel is growing its popular Astra model range with a new athletic and elegant sedan. Highlighting Astra’s typical strengths, such as innovative technologies and its widely recognisable excellence, the new upmarket and sophisticated notchback is a more reasonable choice for drivers who normally would choose for this type of vehicle in the mid-sized group. With this all-new four-doored Opel Astra Sedan, the five-doored hatchback, the Sports Tourer station wagon, and the sporty GTC coupe, the Opel’s line-up of the top-selling Astra is now finished.

With sales beginning June 2012, buyers can choose initially from seven different engines for the new Opel Astra sedan: four petrol units (74 kW/100 hp to 132 kW/180 hp), three of which can be matched with a six-speed automatic, and three diesels (70 kW/95 hp to 96 kW/130 hp). The two amazingly efficient Astra notchback 1.7 CDTI ecoFLEX models with Start/Stop and more efficiency enhancing technologies mix prevailing outputs of 81 kW/110 hp or 96 kW/130 hp with diesel use statistics as low as 3.7 litres per 100 km.

This is equal only to 99g/km CO2 emissions. Boasting a wide powertrain choice by the beginning of next year, the new Astra four-door will profit from the debut of Opel's new high efficiency, powerful, and elegant SIDI ECOTEC four-cylinder petrol engines with 1.6-litre displacement, turbocharge, and direct injection from spark ignition.

The new Astra notch-backed sedan (Length/Width/Height: 4,658/1,814/1,476 mm) has a 2,685-mm wheel base and offers ample interior room. Its separated trunk has a volume of 460 litres – a 90-litre increase from the five-door model. Folding the 60:40 split rear bench flat can increase luggage space to a maximum of up to 1,010 litres.

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Topics: gm, russia, production

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