STORY: It looks like a Chinese car with Chinese labelled parts and stickers of Chinese carmaker JAC everywhere.
But it really isn’t “made in China”, which is exactly what the recently revived, Soviet-era brand Moskvich wants consumers in Russia to believe.
After a two-decade hiatus, the carmaker marked its return with the new Moskvich 3, rolling off the floor of a former Renault plant near Moscow.
A factory that Renault sold as it left the country in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The car goes on sale in Russia next month. Here’s project manager Maxim Klyushkin.
“Everybody thinks that we only glued our logo on the cars here but it’s not the case. We have an external partner. We have Kamaz as an external partner and we have a long-distance partner we are working with and whom we are getting components from. We are not naming that partner."
There’s no prizes for guessing who – in fact, the Moskvich 3 looks identical to the Sehol X4 compact crossover made by China’s JAC.
A standout feature is that it has an anti-braking system.
A component usually found in all new cars elsewhere in the world, Russian carmakers have had to remove it from their cars because of Western sanctions in response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.
The new, modern Chinese design is a far cry from the basic hatchbacks or three-box saloons the brand was once known for.
Renault sold its brand and the factory Moscow will use to build these cars, for a rouble each as it left.
The Russian government now aims to produce just 100,000 Moskvich vehicles a year, some which will be electric.
For comparison, Tesla makes one-fifth that number in a week at its Shanghai plant.
With just 600 Moskvich 3s slated for production this year, the new model is unlikely to dislodge the gloomy outlook for the country’s auto industry, whose annual sales could end the year below a million vehicles for the first time in Russia’s modern history.