General Motors Company to start assembling Chevrolet or Opel autos

Chevrolet or Opel will be the first car brand to be assembled in Belarus by General Motors and Unison, as part of a Belarusian-British joint project — as discussed by Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and Andrew Dunstan, President and Managing Director of GM Russia and CIS
By Alexander Fiodorov

June 2013 saw the signing of a framework agreement on the assembly of General Motors cars using Unison production facilities in Belarus: a priority project for Belarus, supervised by a high-level group, led by Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Prokopovich.

The PM noted during his recent meeting with Mr. Dunstan that the Belarusian government is keen to liaise with General Motors. “We support this co-operative agreement with Unison company and think this collaboration can be expanded by involving other Belarusian and Russian companies,” Mr. Myasnikovich asserted. This year, legislation is being passed to cover the project, including Presidential decrees. Issues relating to recycling are also being settled with the Russian Federation government.

The first stage of the project envisages SKD assembly. Mr. Myasnikovich underlines the need to ‘increase localisation’ to ensure additional added value — to the benefit of both parties. He explains, “This could be done by starting welding and cabin painting works.” These options have been discussed by Belarus, with total understanding reached. Mr. Myasnikovich believes that further steps regarding the car production project in Belarus can now be negotiated.

Tackling co-operative expansion with General Motors, the Head of the Belarusian Government suggests that GM may wish to assess the capacity of the Belarusian manufacturing industry, which currently produces competitively priced automobile component parts. The Belarusian PM is optimistic about prospects for bilateral co-operation and General Motors shares this optimism. Mr. Dunstan states, “It’s very important for General Motors to do good business and produce high-quality cars. The number one task is to make sure the project will progress smoothly. We’ve already chosen our initial model (one of already sold in Russia): Chevrolet or Opel — or, perhaps, Cadillac.” He notes that those working at the factory will gain specialist training.

General Motors and its partners have operations in 30 countries worldwide. The company owns such top brands as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buiсk, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. The company began selling its Chevrolet, Opel and Cadillac cars on the Russian market in 1992.

Unison JV is located in the village of Obchak, 10km from Minsk. The enterprise was founded as a Belarusian-British joint venture: Ford Union, in 1996. In 2000, it became Unison JV CJSC and has assembled a series of automobile brands, including Ford, KIA and Samand.

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