General Motors Corp, the world's largest automaker, is on the verge of announcing its biggest project in Eastern Europe: a complex and innovative venture of $500 million-$600 million to build cars in Russia with AO AvtoVAZ, producer of Lada vehicles.

Strikingly, plans call for production of a Russian-designed model that likely would don GM's Chevrolet badge - a $7,500 all-wheel-drive off-roader that would be exported widely as the cheapest sports-utility vehicle in the world.

As the US automaker will decide soon whether to approve the deal, talked exclusively to David J Herman, GM's vice president in charge of the former Soviet Union. See .

In a two-hour interview at his office in Moscow recently, Herman detailed the substance of the plans as well as their context and logic, speaking with fresh insight on an array of automotive issues in Russia and developing economies generally.

"This interview offers a rare view onto the intricacies of launching a major venture in a difficult yet important market," said David Leggett, managing editor of

"It also is the first in a series of Q&As by to explore key issues with industry leaders. The flexibility of our website enables us to re-define this format of journalism, as we can enhance interviews with a variety of graphics in ways traditional media cannot. In the Herman piece, readers will find analysis, data, forecasts and photos -- all mixed into the flow of questions and answers to add depth to the conversation."

The interview touches on the US automaker's new thinking about emerging markets. This is a timely topic, given GM's rekindled interest in Daewoo Motor Co, following news last week of Ford Motor Co breaking off talks to buy the bankrupt Korean producer.

Much of Daewoo's value lies in its operations in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR, where GM already has a diversified strategy, bolstered by a new partnership with Fiat Auto SpA and strengthened ties with Suzuki Motor Corp.

In particular, how would the AvtoVAZ venture fit into GM's globalisation plans? This is among the critical questions that Herman tackles in the Q&A at: is the premier online portal for automotive industry professionals worldwide. Targeted specifically at industry and business professionals the site provides a single point of reference for independent automotive industry information.