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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Samara's SOK Plans $200M Car Assembly Plant in China

The Samara-based SOK group of companies, which works closely with leading automaker AvtoVAZ, announced in Beijing on Wednesday that it will invest $200 million in a project in China to assemble automobiles for both the Russian and Chinese markets, news agencies reported.

Zhong Xiaoyan, the general manager of Shenzhen SOK Import and Export Trading Co. Ltd., was quoted by the AFX news agency as saying SOK intended to build a factory with the capacity to assemble 100,000 units per year. He said SOK was in talks with 10 Chinese companies interested in the venture.

If SOK succeeds in producing in China, it will be the first Russian carmaker to tap the potentially massive market.

SOK vice president Vitaly Ilyin said most of the parts will be imported from Russia for assembly at the plant and the final product will retail for less than $10,000. He estimated that 40 percent of the units would be exported to Russia.

SOK currently produces an assortment of popular models made famous by other Russian companies, such as the Lada and the Izh. The group is also a major auto-parts producer, supplying up to 30 percent of the parts used in AvtoVAZ units.

SOK could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

SOK was created in 1994 as a dealership. Since then, it has extended its reach beyond the auto industry and has evolved into one of the Samara region's largest financial and industrial groups.

It owns 37 enterprises, including the Izhmash and Roslada auto factories. It also has interests in the oil, beverage, insurance, metals and aviation industries. In total the group employs 68,500 people, Kommersant reported.