German carmaker Opel returns to Russia after market slump pull-out

German carmaker Opel announced on Monday that it had returned to Russia after exiting four years ago, in 2015, amid a “severe economic crisis.”

Russia’s rouble currency lost half of its value in 2014-15 amid crippling sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and plummeting prices for oil, a major export.

The Ruesselsheim, Germany-based manufacturer has re-entered the market by launching production at a facility in the western Russian city of Kaluga, the company said in a statement.

The Zafira Life passenger van and the Grandland X compact sport utility vehicle are being marketed to Russian customers.

The Kaluga plant, about 200 kilometres south-west of Moscow, will also begin producing the Vivaro commercial van in the coming months, the statement said.

Opel will gradually increase its operations in Russia in the next few years, chief executive Michael Lohscheller said in the statement.

“In the coming years, there will be at least one major Opel launch every year,” Lohscheller said.

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