News surfaced yesterday that Renault has decided to sell its Russia operations and stake in Lada for the grand sum of 1 rouble (or double that amount, depending on the source). For those playing at home, a single unit of Russian currency is presently worth 1.5 cents in America as of this writing.
Following that announcement, reporters at The Moscow Times said the country quickly nationalized a major factory belonging to Renault, marking one of (if not the) first major transfer of private assets into state control since the invasion of Ukraine.
What does Russia plan to do with the facility? Kickstart production of the Moskvitch, of course.
“I’ve decided to list the factory as the city’s asset and resume production under the historical brand Moskvitch,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced in a statement. “In 2022, we will open a new page in the history of the Moskvitch,” he went on to say. The heavy equipment brand KAMAZ is tapped to become a primary technological partner in the plant, one whose production lines will apparently produce ‘classic cars’ with internal combustion engines before allegedly turning to all-electrics at some point in the future.
Your author highly doubts the term ‘classic cars’ means we will suddenly see a proliferation of Cold War-era Moskvitch sedans popping out of the factory, a vehicle whose tooling is surely long worn out and recycled into washing machines. Rather, it’s surely a reference to what other parts of the world call ‘legacy automobiles’ – ones that burn gasoline or diesel instead of humming along with a belly full of electrons. Still, in this wildly unpredictable geopolitical climate, anything can happen.
The plant is said to have produced models like the Logan and Duster, plus the Sandero – a model which became popular in an ironic lens thanks to James May and his good news. For what it’s worth, Mr. Mayor has said they will try to keep “most” of the existing team working directly at the plant or with its suppliers. Renault has been inside those doors since the late ‘90s.
As for pulling out of the place, it seems Renault simply ceded its two-thirds stake in AvtoVAZ with an option to buy it back within six years. Elsewhere, fast-food giant McDonald’s has announced they’re packing up shop and selling its 850 Russian locations to a local buyer who has promised all the restaurants will reopen in June under a new brand with a similar menu. That’s probably the first and last time TTAC will report on the minutiae of a fast-food joint.
Renault’s exit is expected to place a 2.2 billion Euro ($2.32b USD) writedown on their books.
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