The GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture plans to switch to a three-shift working pattern from autumn 2003, Heidi McCormack, the head of General Motors CIS, said Monday, according to the TASS news agency.

GM and leading Russian car producer AvtoVAZ each have a 41.5% stake in GM-AvtoVAZ, while the remaining 17% stake is owned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The joint venture currently produces Chevrolet-Niva cars and plans to produce more than 36,000 cars this year.

McCormack declined to say whether the joint venture would start producing Opel Astra cars, explaining that no official decision has been made yet.

GM-AvtoVAZ started operating in September 2002.