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GM to Open Russian R&D Center

General Motors, the world's largest automaker, is set to announce the opening of a research and development center in Russia this week, Interfax reported Friday.

The move would make GM the first foreign carmaker to start up research and development operations in Russia.

"It became clear that Russian scientists work quite efficiently, they have many ideas which can be utilized and be of benefit to the company and also be of benefit to those organizations that exist here in Russia," said Alexei Ushakov, head of research and development at GM Russia, Interfax reported.

The company declined to provide any details ahead of an official announcement Tuesday.

The move comes as an increasing number of carmakers turn their sights to Russia. Investing in R&D marks a shift, as most companies have invested only in production.

"It's a very positive sign for the industry," Jean-Francois Tremblay, a Moscow-based analyst with Ernst & Young, said of the news report. "If GM is thinking of R&D, they are probably thinking big."

General Motors' main R&D center is in Warren, Michigan. It also has research operations in other countries, including Brazil and India. In 2003, GM was the world's sixth-largest investor in R&D, spending more than $5 billion on research programs, according to a recent study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

In 2001, GM set up a joint venture with AvtoVAZ, the nation's top carmaker, becoming the first foreign automotive producer to come to Russia.

(The Moscow Times 24.x.05)

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