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Hyundai’s Solaris Reimagined: A New Chapter in Russian Automotive History

theguru Views  

Hyundai’s compact sedan model, Solaris, has been reborn as a Russian car brand. Four models are produced locally under the Solaris brand, simply rebranded versions of existing Hyundai and Kia models.

According to the industry, on the 14th, AGR Automotive Group started producing four types of Solaris brand vehicles, HS, HCR, KRS, and KRX, at the AGR Automobile Factory (formerly Hyundai’s St. Petersburg factory) on the 9th. Solaris is the name of a compact sedan model that Hyundai used to sell in Russia. When Hyundai sold its factory and withdrew from the market, AGR Automotive Group revived the brand by obtaining the rights to use the Solaris trademark from Hyundai, leveraging the reputation of Solaris, a national car in Russia. AGR Automotive is a subsidiary of Art Finance, which acquired Hyundai’s local factory in Russia.

All four vehicles included in the AGR Automobile Factory’s production portfolio are models Hyundai and Kia had produced until the factory was shut down. The Hyundai Solaris has been renamed HS, the Creta is now HCR, and the Kia Rio and RioX are renamed KRS and KRX, respectively. The production is being handled by GAC Group, a partner of Art Finance, which has taken on the contract manufacturing. It is estimated that about 70,000 units can be produced using the remaining stock parts for these models currently in the factory.

At the beginning of last month, HS and HCR completed all the certification and approval processes necessary for local sales, such as OTTS. OTTS refers to the approval process for selling vehicles in countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. AGR Automotive Group has started supplying the HS, the first to start production, to the local dealer network. It plans to announce the official launch when the deployment across Russia is completed.

A local industry insider said, “It seems that more than 10,000 vehicles will be produced under the Solaris brand by the end of this spring at this factory,” but added, “However, it’s not decided which model will be produced under the Solaris brand after the existing Hyundai and Kia parts used for production run out.”

Previously, Hyundai sold its St. Petersburg factory in Russia to a local company, Art Finance, for 10,000 rubles (about $109) on December 19th last year. The St. Petersburg factory was one of Hyundai’s key overseas production bases, with an annual production capacity of 230,000. It was eventually sold after being shut down due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last March.

Art Finance, which acquired the factory, is virtually wholly owned by Andrey Pavlovich, the former president of the Russian car dealer Avilon Group. He made a name for himself when he acquired all the shares of Volkswagen’s Russian business last May. The fact that Volkswagen’s Russian subsidiary was renamed AGR Automotive Group also happened right after Art Finance’s acquisition.

Meanwhile, Solaris was a leading model in Hyundai’s strategy in Russia, along with Creta, even just before the outbreak of war in February 2022. It ranked third in Russia’s best-selling car rankings in 2021, following the Kia Rio and Hyundai Creta. Solaris’ sales volume in 2021 was 61,061 units.

theguru
content@viewusglobal.com

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