Renault Freezes Russian Auto Project Blames Rubles Slump

Renault Freezes Russian Auto Project, Blames Ruble's Slump

PARIS -- Renault (IW 1000/80) has stopped a project to make commercial vehicles with Russian company Zil because of the fall of the ruble, a Renault spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"Due to the weakening of the ruble, Renault has frozen this project at this time and tries to find a solution to do the project profitably," the spokeswoman said.

Renault was studying whether it should make commercial vehicles in Russia and Zil offered one way of doing this, she said, but no investment had yet been made.

The ruble has fallen sharply against the euro, partly because of an underlying slowdown of the Russian economy and more recently because of the crisis over Ukraine.

In August 2013, Igor Koulgan, the managing director of Zil subsidiary MosavtoZil mentioned talks with Renault and with Italian group Fiat to produce commercial vehicles on Zil assembly lines.

But he said then that it was too soon to speak of any agreement, while hoping that a contract might be signed in September.

The newspaper Vedomosti, citing industrial and government sources, reported then that the agreement would involve the production of Renault Master and Fiat Ducato vehicles from the first quarter of 2014. It suggested that total capacity would reach 50,000 vehicles per year.

The Renault spokesman said on Wednesday that nothing had been signed.

The other big French carmaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, said in March 2013 that it was negotiating with Zil on a production agreement.

Zil, founded in 1916, made limousines for the Kremlin and the government during the time of the Soviet Union.

It now produces mainly heavy trucks and vehicles for the construction industry.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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