At first, despite the most serious resistance, it was possible to “push through” the long-suffering government decree to reduce duties on components for car assembly plants, and then other large-scale news ripened. At the end of April, in St. Petersburg's Grand Hotel Europe, the Toyota announced a decision to build a plant on the outskirts of the northern capital.
They talked about this project so long ago that everything seems to have ceased to be taken seriously. Over the past two years, at least ten times the media announced, citing Russian officials, that the Japanese concern is "almost ready" to invest its yen in the construction of a plant in Russia. But then the representatives of Toyota made an amendment - "they still think." The last such “leak of information” followed by a refutation happened just in April, shortly before the invitation to St. Petersburg for a press conference.
In the hall with the very symbolic name “Roof”, only representatives of the St. Petersburg media and local councilors of central publications and television channels gathered. At exactly 2:30 p.m., Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref (a native of Leningrad, by the way) entered the hall with the walk of the winner and solemnly announced:
- Today is an extraordinary day for us: I am pleased to announce that such a well-known company as Toyota intends to implement its investment project in St. Petersburg. The arrival of Toyota in Russia means not only the creation of new jobs at the plant itself; Following it will come to us and manufacturers of auto parts. This means that the decree on duties on components, about which we have discussed so much in the government, has an effect. I hope that other manufacturers will come to us soon!
Following him, the governor of the northern capital Valentina Matvienko spoke:
- The fact that Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has decided to build its plant in St. Petersburg - recognition that we have the most powerful innovative, industrial, human potential, educational level, plus a favorable geopolitical location. All this, of course, played a role in making the decision, but we, for our part, tried to create the most attractive investment climate.
Her words were confirmed by the senior executive director of Toyota - the president of Toyota Motor Europe Tokuichi Uranisi (pictured in the center):
- We believe that the Russian automobile market will continue to expand … We came to the conclusion that we needed production in Russia … The most difficult was the choice of the construction site, and we decided to open a factory in St. Petersburg, carefully examining all transport communications in the region, the availability of manpower and prospects for the further expansion of our activities.
WINDOW TO EUROPE
Solemn speeches and mutual gratitude somehow overshadowed the details of the project. So far not much is known about him. The memorandum says the following. The Toyota Motor Menfuccuring Russia plant will be built in Shushary, an industrial area on the southern outskirts of St. Petersburg, between Moskovsky and Pulkovsky Highways. For this, the Japanese have already bought 220 hectares of land (several times more than they purchased under their Ford plant) and will lay the foundation this summer. Two years later, a full-fledged plant will be built - with welding, painting and assembly industries. Camry cars will be released here. At first - 20 thousand cars a year, but in two or three years they will reach their design capacity - up to 50 thousand. In the future, up to 200 thousand “Japanese” of different models can be assembled in St. Petersburg.
Apparently, the company intends to actively use parts from Russian suppliers. “Which ones will be decided in the near future based on the results of a detailed analysis,” Mr. Uranisi diplomatically remarked. Then a Japanese businessman on the sidelines admitted why the company reserved the land with a margin: next to the main plant, the production of components can be gradually expanded. Therefore, it is not yet possible to suggest how much even a Russian-made Camry can cost.
According to Alexander Agibalov, vice president of Aton Investment Group, only through taxes can the price be reduced by 15%. Local production of components will make it possible to further reduce it, but in any case it will cost 24–27 thousand dollars (now - from 29.8 thousand dollars).
And here one more question arises: why did the Japanese opt for an expensive business class model? Of course, it sells well in Russia (11th place in the charts of foreign cars following the results of the first quarter), but there is a much more successful and affordable C-Class Corolla … Mr. Uranisi from a direct answer to this question evaded, but there are two versions of such a solution. One of them - in the coming years, it is in class C that the most intense competition will flare up in Russia: in addition to the already well-known brands, Renault and Logan are now entering the market, Chinese can soon be expected with their cheap models. It is possible that Toyota wants to advance to a higher class, where its Camry is beyond competition, and the demand for a prestigious business class model in our bureaucratic state is always provided.