Reborn Lada may wear the Daewoo badge

MOSCOW - Lada vehicles could return to Western Europe with a Daewoo badge.

Lada's comeback is linked to a complex web of joint ventures and possible acquisitions involving General Motors.

GM has established a joint venture with AutoVAZ, the Russian carmaker that builds Ladas.

The two automakers have agreed to produce a new Niva sport-utility in Togliatti, about 620 miles southeast of Moscow.

Annual capacity of 75,000 units, half of which will be exported, should be reached in 2004.

If GM succeeds in acquiring Daewoo Motor Co., the Niva could get the South Korean maker's badge in Western Europe.

David Herman, president of GM Russia, said the Daewoo name and dealer network could work for the Niva.

"Daewoo is one possibility," Herman said. "But it depends on GM's negotiations with the South Koreans. Another possibility is reviving the old Lada network and badge in Western Europe.

"We are also looking at other possibilities."

Two badges Herman said would not be used were Opel and Chevrolet, even though the Niva will use the shortened Chevy name in Russia.

Another possibility could be to use the Fiat badge for the Niva.

Fiat recently abandoned plans to produce a small sport-utility based on the Mitsubishi Pajero/Shogun Pinin, which is built and designed by Pininfarina. GM has joint ventures in purchasing and powertrain with Fiat.

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