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    Putin unveils car production plant in Russia's Far East

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    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled on Tuesday a plant in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok to assemble Korean cars.

    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled on Tuesday a plant in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok to assemble Korean cars.

    The project was launched a year after the federal government raised import duties on used cars, angering drivers and businesses in the Far East who relied almost exclusively on imported Asian cars.

    Putin took a tour of the plant's assembly room and drove a metallic gold Patriot Limited model with a Russian-Italian engine, which was made for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who wished to buy the model during a meeting in St. Petersburg in October.

    "You promised him a discount," Putin reminded Vadim Shvetsov, the auto holding's director.

    "Yes, we will honor a 10% discount," Shvetsov confirmed.

    The assembly project's first stage would relocate Naberezhniye Chelny production lines, making 25,000 SsangYong SUVs per year. The plant will start making Isuzu trucks by the middle of next year and switch production to complete knocked down mode, which includes welding and painting, in 2012, media earlier reported.

    The local assembly can lower prices on the models, which are now imported from Korea's SsangYong and Japan's Isuzu, by 5%, Shvetsov earlier said.

    Speaking to plant workers on Tuesday, Putin said Russia will continue reviving the domestic car industry, which was hard hit by the global financial and economic crisis.

    He again spoke in favor of the rise in duties on imported cars: "There was only one option - to develop domestic [car] production. Your plant is only the first robin and I hope not the last one."

    Investment in the Sollers plant was reported to have reached 5 billion rubles ($169 million).

    VLADIVOSTOK, December 29 (RIA Novosti)

     

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