Stadco and Gestamp Automoción have announced a so-called "ground-breaking" joint venture JV that will result in both companies owning an equal share of Stadco's dedicated body in white (BIW) stampings and assembly facility, currently under construction on a 15-hectare site in Vsevolozhsk, Saint Petersburg, a region home to a number of established or under-construction car assembly plants that is fast becoming the 'Detroit of Russia'.

Earlier this year Stadco announced that it had been awarded a supply agreement with Ford (which assembles its Focus and other European-sourced models at a plant in Saint Petersburg) that would require it to develop a BIW stampings and assembly facility in the St Petersburg region - the first such operation to be established in Russia by an international supplier.

Stadco managing director Andrew Morriss said: "As early as 2004 we realised that there was an opportunity for Stadco to offer the increasing number of incoming [international car makers] in Russia modern facilities featuring the latest automated processes, which meet the international quality, cost and delivery standards [they expect].

"However, the sheer scale and rapid growth of the market and the potential for new business over the next year or so has surpassed all expectations.  By combining Stadco's world leading BIW engineering and manufacturing capability with Gestamp's global scale and expertise, the JV will offer [automakers] a unique and enhanced range of BIW services all from one, dedicated facility in Saint Petersburg.

"We believe the collaboration between our two companies will allow us jointly to better manage the expected rapid growth in business, from a larger number of [automakers], delivering multiple projects on behalf of our customers whilst, providing additional security and improved efficiencies," Morriss added.

The automated facility initially will employ up to 200 workers and production is expected to start in January 2009.

Stadco and Gestamp predict rapid growth for the plant and anticipate that, within six years, it will employ about 800.

Morriss said the site was "well located" to allow the JV to supply the other major automakers established in the region including Nissan, GM, Toyota and Suzuki.

Mitsubishi is also expected to announce plans to assemble vehicles in Russia around the end of the year, possibly in a JV with PSA.