General Motors ’ plant in St Petersburg, Russia, on Tuesday started production of Opel Astra new-generation five-door hatchbacks, the plant’s CEO Hans Juergen Michel said.

The starting price is RUB569,900, said Ilya Zagumennykh, GM Opel director for sales and marketing in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS ). Over 3,000 orders have been received over the past month and a half, he added.

Michel also said that the plant was expected to reach the projected capacity of 60,000 cars annually in 2011.

GM launched its plant in St Petersburg in November 2008. The planted operated in a test mode until February 16, 2009.

Investments in the launch of the plant amounted to US$300 million.

The plant also produces Chevrolet Captiva, Opel Antara, and Chevrolet Cruze models.