Following an agreement signed between General Motors and Russian vehicle maker Gaz at the beginning of 2011, the companies have officially rolled their first Chevrolet Aveo off the line this week at the Gaz assembly plant in Nizhny Novgorod.

Assembly is being carried out from complete knockdown (CKD) kits shipped from GM Korea by Maersk to the Ust-Luga Container Terminal near St Petersburg. As Automotive Logistics News reported in January, transport of the containerised kits from there is being handled by Ruscon, the Russian logistics and intermodal operator subsidiary of Global Container Service, which is providing a block train service (read more here).

Following trials run at the beginning of December, Ruscon has now started regular transport of containers with parts from the Ust-Luga terminal on to the Gaz plant. Around 800 40ft containers will be moved per month at full production.

Ruscon is using its own flat car wagons for the shipment of the containers and in addition to railway transport, it is arranging port and customs transit on the project.

GM and Gaz have invested $29m in preparing the Nizhny Novgorod facility for production of the Aveo. Planned annual output is 30,000 vehicles for the Russian market, with a hatchback version being added at the end of March this year.

In 2012, Chevrolet was the most popular foreign car brand in Russia for the sixth year in a row and saw sales of almost 25,000.

"The start of production of the Aveo at the GAZ plant will enable us to meet the strong domestic demand for compact city cars from the Chevrolet brand,” said Jim Bovenzi, president and managing director of GM Russia and the CIS.

Gaz is carrying out welding, painting and assembly on a two-shift pattern. It is using 43 welding robots and 33 welding jigs developed at GM Korea. The paint shop has been modernised and the assembly line was developed and installed specifically for the Aveo project.

"Our industrial partnership with General Motors is enabling Gaz to use effectively the investment made in the car production facility, improve the technologies of the Gaz plant and provide additional training for our employees,” said Bo Andersson, president and CEO of Gaz Group this week. “Under this joint project Gaz has become the first plant in Russia to carry out full-cycle production of the Aveo. I would like to thank our partners for their trust and assure them that Gaz will manufacture Chevrolet Aveo in full conformance with the standards of General Motors."

The Gaz plant has also began building Skoda and Volkswagen models on behalf of the Volkswagen Group, and will begin production of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van later this year. Annual contract production across the brands is expected to surpass 100,000 units this year and 130,000 by 2015 (read more here).