GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- AutoVAZ Chairman Vladimir Kadannikov wants General Motors to acquire an equity stake in his company, Russia's largest automaker.
The two companies already work together.
Production of the Niva sport-utility in partnership with GM is scheduled to start Sept. 23 at AutoVAZ's sprawling Togliatti plant, about 600 miles southeast of Moscow.
"We would like to have a GM stake because we are not going to do only this joint venture," Kadannikov said at the Automotive News Europe Congress here last month.
"Our partnership is a strategic one," he said. "I met with [GM President] Rick Wagoner in March, and we agreed that within a short time we would consider this. But there have been no firm discussions about equity yet."
Kadannikov said AutoVAZ plans to build just 500 Nivas this year. But output will increase to 30,000 units in 2003 and, eventually, to 75,000 a year.
Kadannikov said the Niva would be exported to Western, Eastern and Central Europe and would be sold through either GM or AutoVAZ dealers, depending on the territory.
Kadannikov acknowledged that AutoVAZ has postponed plans to build a Russian version of the Opel Astra compact because it can't do it cheaply enough.
"We are trying to get the price of the car below $10,000, and we haven't managed to achieve that yet," he said.
To produce the Astra at the required price, "We must look at bringing costs down by using more local components - unless, of course, the buying power of Russian consumers increases."
Kadannikov did not appear concerned about the possibility of Romanian carmaker Dacia exporting to Russia the "5,000 euro car," - a car for under $5,000 - which it is developing with parent Renault SA.
He admitted it would be difficult for AutoVAZ to produce a competitive model at that price, but he said: "There are no miracles in this world, but I would like (Dacia) to be successful."