Geely's joint venture assembly plant with Belarus has started producing crossovers with Russia targeted as a key market, a media report said.

According to Reuters, the plant, 70km (44 miles) from Minsk in Zhodino, with capacity for 60,000 units a year, aims to produce 25,000 cars this year and 35,000 in 2019.

"Ninety percent of the cars produced will be targeted at the Russian market," the company said in a statement cited by the news agency.

Reuters noted Belarussian authorities had talked previously of plans to expand the plant to increase production to 120,000 cars. But, in the first nine months of this year, Geely sold only about 1,700 cars in Russia down 55% year on year.

According to Russian analysts, the plant, which will take advantage of Belarus' membership of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union, would allow Geely to increase sales.

But analysts downplayed the ability of the Russian market to absorb more Chinese cars.

"The market is growing, but it depends on prices and the range. In any case they will not be able to sell 30,000 per year," Sergey Udalov, deputy head of consultancy Autostat, told Reuters. "It is possible to increase sales to 10,000, but I do not think they will be able to sell more."

The report added the plant was not Belarus's first attempt to establish its own car production. Previous efforts included investment from Ford and Skoda, but those projects folded.

An official Belarus website report said factory construction began in May 2015 and the CKD kit assembly plant would build about 1,700 units this year after production began last week.

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