After one year of tests and negotiations, Volkswagen do Brasil has begun exporting the Gol compact car to Russia. The model was displayed at the Moscow Auto Show last year.

The automaker expects to send about 1,000 Gols to Russia by the end of the year and will ship about 5,000 in 2005.

Initially, the company will sell only the model with a one-litre eight-valve engine. It’s the first time that the one-litre version has been exported outside Latin America.

According to Volkswagen do Brasil the Russians chose this engine to take advantage of complex passenger vehicle import duties and taxes in Russia.

There car import tariffs are on a graduated scale based on engine displacement and more that 30% of the rate is based on the value of the vehicle. Car with engines up 1,000cc pay the low engine displacement tax.

However, Volkswagen plans to ship the Gol with 1.8-litre eight-valve engine to Russia from next year.

To help the one-litre engine to cope with the low temperatures of the Russian winter Volkswagen has made some changes. The engine gains a special warm-up system, reinforced spark plugs and new pistons.

The Gol compact is the most exported car in Brazilian automotive history with about 460,000 units shipped to foreign markets since 1980.

Nowadays, the model is sold in more than 20 countries and is the best-selling car in Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. In Mexico the car is sold as the Pointer. The Gol model has also been the best-selling vehicle in its native Brazil for 17 years.

Since last year the Gol has been assembled in China from CKD kits shipped from Brazil. From the end of this year the model will also be assembled in Iran using Brazilian kits.

Designed and built in Brazil, the Gol was introduced in 1980 and is now in its third generation. From 1983 to 2002 it was also made in Argentina. It is produced in Volkswagen’s São Bernardo do Campo and Taubaté plants.

Rogerio Louro