Russian luxury car brand takes over major Toyota plant

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The facility in St. Petersburg has been given to the domestic luxury car brand Aurus

A St. Petersburg-based plant formerly belonging to Japanese automaker Toyota has been handed over to Russian high-end carmaker Aurus, Russia’s acting Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, said on Tuesday. The brand is best known for producing limos for the Russian president.

Production at the plant will start before the end of the current year, Manturov added.

Toyota shut down the plant in 2022 and left the Russian market amid Ukraine-related sanctions against Moscow. The facility, which produced the Camry and RAV4 models, was later sold to the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, abbreviated as NAMI, which owns the Aurus brand. In 2022, the Institute also acquired French car maker Renault’s controlling stake in Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ.

Aurus is a line of luxury vehicles that was created a decade ago with the aim of replacing the fleet of mostly foreign-made cars used by top Russian officials. The brand debuted at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration in May 2018. On Tuesday, Putin used an updated version of the luxury vehicle during his inauguration ceremony in Moscow.

The cars are assembled at NAMI’s factory in Moscow and at an assembly plant in the Republic of Tatarstan, which used to be a joint venture between Russian company Sollers and American car maker Ford. Last year, Aurus production was launched in the United Arab Emirates.

In January, Manturov said that Aurus was expected to broaden its range of vehicles by adding more affordable and mass-market models. Sales of new large executive and business class sedans will be launched in 2025. The price of currently available Aurus vehicle models is above $500,000.

In February, President Putin gifted an Aurus to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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