General Motors increased sales of imported cars in Russia from 3,339 in 2002 to 8,339 last year, Dow Jones reported, adding that 7,318 were Opel models.

"We see a good future for ourselves in the Russian market in 2004, as we see Russia's imported market continuing to show very robust growth," Heidi MacCormack, general director for GM CIS, reportedly said.

Dow Jones said sales of locally produced Chevy-Nivas, sports-utility vehicles made by GM's joint venture with Russia's OAO Avtovaz, reached 21,000 cars in the first full year of operation.

MacCormack reportedly said GM was happy with such sales but admitted the figure was smaller than originally forecast - GM-Avtovaz initially planned to produce as many as 35,000 Chevy-Nivas in 2003 but later downgraded its forecast to 25,300, citing supply delays and a 20% decline in the retail car market in November.

According to Dow Jones, GM plans to start sales of several imported new models in Russia, as well as launch local production of the Hummer SUV in 2004. The company also plans to expand into Russia's regions and increase the number of dealerships and franchises, the report added.