Daimler and the Russian commercial vehicle manufacturer GAZ have signed a memorandum of understanding in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The aim is to produce Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans locally. Plans also call for local production of engines, transmissions, axles, and other components for the Sprinter and GAZ models.

After a technical feasibility study, Mercedes-Benz Vans and GAZ will begin preparing the Nizhny Novgorod production location in 2011 for the joint production of vehicles and components. This will involve modification of the existing light commercial vehicles production facilities at the site, bringing new facilities to Russia, and training GAZ employees for their new tasks. After production is launched, it is expected that about 25,000 units of the Sprinter will roll off the assembly line in Russia in a typical year. Daimler will organize sales and servicing of the vehicles through the existing Mercedes-Benz dealership network, with support from some GAZ dealerships.

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: "Russia is an attractive place to invest with great opportunities for growth, and that's why Daimler has made a long-term commitment to it. The partnership with GAZ underscores once again the fact that Daimler has come to stay and to achieve further growth."

Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: "For Mercedes-Benz Vans Russia remained an unexplored market. Our traditional markets are in western Europe, Latin America, and North America. In Russia the market volume for midsized and large vans is about 117,000 units. By 2020 the market is expected to grow to approximately 275,000 units. That shows how important and right it is to be active in Russia. Together with GAZ we will put the optimal products for the Russian market on the road. To do this, Daimler AG will invest more than EUR100m."

Bo Andersson, President of GAZ Group, said: "As GAZ and Mercedes-Benz LCVs largely target different customer groups, both companies expect to be able to develop successfully in their respective market segments in Russia".