Sollers-Bussan, a 50:50 joint venture between the Russian vehicle maker Sollers and Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co, has started contract assembly of Toyota’s Land Cruiser Prado SUV at its plant in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East region. Initial production capacity is set at around 1,000 vehicles a month and full production is now underway. It is the first time that Sollers has assembled Toyota vehicles.

Toyota is supplying components from its facility in Aichi, Japan. It is also responsible for product quality management including training and personnel support.

Toyota said the Prado will be shipped out from the Vladivostok plant to its Russian dealer network via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Alongside its own UAZ and ZMZ brands, Sollers also makes Isuzu and Mazda vehicles under contract, as well as vehicles for Ford and Ssangyong. It has a joint venture with Ford in Russia that is based around Ford’s production plants in the Leningrad Region and two Sollers plants in Naberezhniye Celny and in Tatarstan.

Sollers-Bussan was established in August 2010 and has been engaged in preparation for the launch of the Toyota project since then, with technical assistance from Toyota. Production at the Vladivostok plant is reported to have been delayed for about a year because of quality control issues.

Contract manufacturing is a growing business in Russia as foreign carmakers look at ways of introducing their vehicles to the Russian market without succumbing to high import costs and regulatory barriers (read more here link to Recycling fee story).

Sollers also set up a joint venture company with Mazda last year, again in Vladivostok, for production of the CX-5. Mazda Sollers Manufacturing Rus has a production capacity of 50,000 vehicles and plans to add the Mazda 6 to the assembly line at some point in the future.

Sollers rival GAZ has recently begun production of the Chevrolet Aveo at Nizhny Novgorod following an agreement signed with GM Korea in 2011. GAZ also has contract manufacturing projects to build the Skoda Jeti and Octavia, the Volkswagen Jetta and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van.

OEMs such as GM and VW are using GAZ’s capacity to help the volume requirement’s of Russia’s industrial policy under Decree 166, which calls for foreign carmakers to make 350,000 units per year in Russia.