Putin Launches Lada Largus Minivan

Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin launched the production of a new minivan, the Lada Largus, at AvtoVAZ’s main plant in the city of Togliatti in the Samara Region on the Volga on Wednesday.

“AvtoVAZ has an excellent future. Today it occupies 25 percent of the market in Russia and I am convinced it will remain at the level,” Putin said at the launch ceremony.

He said 169 billion rubles ($5.8 billion) will be invested in production development until 2020. Putin also left his signature on the hood of the first manufactured car.

Lada Largus is the first large-scale joint project between AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest car maker, and the Renault-Nissan alliance. The Togliatti plant will build up to 350,000 cars based on the B0 platform per year under the Lada, Renault and Nissan brand names.

Total investment in the project amounted to nearly 400 million euros ($525.7 million). AvtoVAZ and Nissan invested 25 percent each, with Renault investing 50 percent.

Passenger versions of the Lada Largus will be produced with seven and five seats and a truck version.

It is the third time Putin has launched a new Lada car brand. Previously he drove a Lada Kalina passenger car on the Khabarovsk-Chita highway in August 2010 and tested the Lada Granta in the Samara region in May 2011.

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