The Moscow Times reports that General Motors and AvtoVAZ have signed a deal with the SAP high-tech company to install a computer system that the car companies have said will be the brains behind their plant in Tolyatti.

The plant is to begin production of the Chevrolet-Niva sports utility vehicle in September.

The new computer system connects the plant with suppliers and dealers to ensure that parts are delivered and cars shipped out on time. It also will be used to monitor quality control and keep track of production and finances.

The report says that SAP managing director Alexei Shlykov said at a news conference Tuesday that the system would cost between $3 million and $5 million over three to five years.

The system, which will include about 400 computers located throughout the factory, is SAP’s largest deal in Russia, he said.

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Chevy-Niva general director John Milonas said the quality of parts delivered to the plant was a major concern and that as much as 20 percent are defective. “Many of the faults are caused during transport,” he said.

GM and AvtoVAZ are to begin producing the Chevy-Niva on Sept. 23, having signed off on the $332 million joint venture in June 2001.

The deal includes financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Some 75,000 Chevy-Nivas are to be produced annually. The SUV will cost $8,000.