Hyundai’s Russian plant up for sale as marque departs over war

Hyundai's departure comes after Volkswagen and Toyota left earlier this year and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in 2022.

South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor said on Tuesday it was selling its manufacturing plant in Russia, which has been idle since March last year after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Hyundai Motor Company today held a Board of Directors meeting, approving a plan to sell its entire stake in Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus (HMMR LLC) to Art-Finance LLC,” the firm said in a statement.

“Hyundai is currently making final arrangements with Art-Finance for details of the deal,” it added.

War casualty

The war in Ukraine has sparked an exodus of foreign companies from Russia, including many major car manufacturers, as sanctions by the European Union, the United States and others have made it increasingly difficult to do business with Moscow.

The Hyundai plant in Saint Petersburg, launched in 2010, suspended operations in March 2022, citing difficulties with sourcing component supplies after the start of the war.

Sales of Hyundai cars have since tumbled in Russia. It sold about 45 000 units last year, compared to the company’s previous average annual sales of 200 000 vehicles, according to the Association of European Business.

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In August, the automaker’s monthly sales in Russia dropped to an all-time low of six vehicles, the AEB said.

Several international carmakers ventured into Russia in recent decades to capitalise on the country’s expanding economy, but many of those plants have now been forced to shut down.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen and Toyota also sold their Russian operations, exiting the market.

Japanese carmaker Nissan sold its assets in the country to the Russian government last year, while French automaker Renault has also handed over its Russian assets to Moscow for a symbolic one ruble.

Chinese takeover

The Russian government body that oversees foreign investment in strategic industries has approved the sale of Hyundai’s assets to Art-Finance, Russia’s trade minister said Thursday.

Denis Manturov said the Russian company was looking into the possibility of restarting production at the site in Saint Petersburg, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Beijing has stepped in to fill the void left by the exit of Western manufacturers: between January and October this year, 80% of new units imported came from China, official figures show.

NOW READ: Russia and its oligarchs big losers due to sanctions

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