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    Six carmakers to start CKD assembly in Russia - ministry

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    IVANOVO, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's economics ministry will hold final talks by the end of April with six carmakers planning to start complete knock down (CKD) assembly of their cars in Russia, a ministry official said Friday.

    "We are holding active talks with six world manufacturers," Dmitry Levchenkov, a deputy director of the ministry's investment policy department told journalists, naming four of them - Japan's Mitsubishi and Suzuki, France's Peugeot-Citroen and China's Great Wall.

    The official said Peugeot-Citroen could build a car assembly plant in the Nizhny Novgorod Region in central Russia. He said Suzuki will most likely build a plant in St. Petersburg.

    As for Great Wall, China's largest private automaker, it was reported by Chinese officials in February as planning to assemble 50,000 vehicles a year in the Republic of Tatarstan, with a total investment of $70 million.

    Levchenkov said the Great Wall documents are being coordinated in the Industry and Energy Ministry and the Federal Customs Service.

    The official said his ministry is holding talks with 50 manufacturers on CKD production of auto components in Russia.

    "Of course, we will not sign agreements with all of them. But 50 companies displayed interest," he said.

    Levchenkov said the ministry signed an agreement with Toyota on manufacturing car seats in the Leningrad Region around St. Petersburg.

    He also said Canada's Magna, a well-known manufacturer of car parts, plans to build several plants in three Russian cities.

    Investment agreements on CKD production are signed in the framework of the Russian government's relevant resolution, which grants manufacturers benefits when they bring auto parts into Russia on condition of gradual localization, or a pledge to produce whole units in Russia in the future.

    Levchenkov said the Taganrog carmaker in southern Russia has applied for a CKD assembly of Hyundai cars, which are assembled in the semi knock down (SKD) mode now.

    A number of foreign companies, including giants such as America's Ford Motor Company and Japan's Toyota, have either already opened or have announced plans to open auto plants in Russia in the last few years.

    With foreign carmakers starting to produce moderately-priced vehicles - the Renault Logan for example retails at around a no-frills $8,000 - ordinary Russians are increasingly snapping them up in preference to similarly-priced domestic models, which are not always seen as being wholly reliable.

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