Russian automaker Avtotor said it plans to launch commercial production of the BJ40 SUV model supplied in CKD form by Chinese state owned automaker BAIC Group.

The Avtotor plant, located in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, had previously produced vehicles for Hyundai-Kia, BMW and General Motors but was understood to have been redundant for a number of years. More recently it had been subject to sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Reports suggested the Kaliningrad plant had already begun assembly of two BAIC models earlier in the current quarter, the X35 compact SUV and the U5 sedan, and planned to add several new BAIC models to its production line by the end of the year, including the BJ40 in July.

At the beginning of the year, Kaliningrad regional governor, Anton Alikhanov, said plans were being put in place for the Avtotor plant to produce 50,000 vehicles in 2023.

Following the imposition of sanctions by the west on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Chinese automakers have been quick to fill the vacuum. Brands such as SAIC, Chery, Geely and Haval are grabbing an increasing share of the Russian vehicle market, at the expense of local automakers such as Lada and Moskovich.

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By GlobalData