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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saab-Scania JV to Build Buses for Moscow Fleet

Swedish automaker Saab-Scania AB announced Thursday a joint venture to assemble city buses in the Moscow region, that will attempt to replace some of the capital's ageing fleet.

The joint venture RuScan was set up by Saab-Scania and the Russian joint-stock company Investavtoros to assemble city buses in Ramenskoye, east of Moscow. All the parts will be delivered from Sweden, except for the bodies, which will be produced in Russia using Russian materials, according to Saab spokeswoman Svetlana Erickson.

The prototype is expected to be produced in June, and full-scale production will start in October. The company is planning to increase production volume gradually from 50 buses this year to 500 beginning in 1995. Company sources declined to give details on the project's cost. They did say that all the buses will be sold in Russia.

Over the past three years, Russia's aging bus fleets have gone unreplaced. The problem has been made worse by a shortage of spare parts for Hungarian-made Ikarus buses, the most common foreign bus in the country. Even in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which had a tradition of efficient above-ground transportation, people now prefer to use the metro.

A number of other Western bus manufacturers have stepped in to fill the gap in the Russian market. The Saab deal represents a $165 million project under which Mercedes-Benz and the Russian conglomerate Avtrocon will assemble Mercedes buses in the town of Golitsyno, in the Moscow region.

Saab-Scania has also signed a deal with the Russian company Chekhov-Avtotrans to set up a repair shop in the Moscow region this year. Scania intends to create a chain of such shops in the near future, according to the company's press release. Leif Ostling, Saab's president, who attended the official opening ceremony in Moscow on Thursday, said that Russia is a promising market for his company's buses and trucks because their technical characteristics fit Russian conditions.