Hyundai Motor Co.officially opened its manufacturing plant in St. Petersburg, Russia on Sept. 21, 2010.

With mass production scheduled to begin in January next year, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus (HMMR), a fully-owned subsidiary of Seoul-based Hyundai Motor, will have its annual production targeted at 105,000 vehicles in the first year, which will be increased to 150,000 units per year in 2012.

Hyundai Motor now has six production facilities outside its homeland with the completion of HMMR, including USA, China, India, Turkey and the Czech Republic. Besides the Russian Federation’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the grand opening ceremony was attended by six hundred VIPs, company executives and media members from both Russia and South Korea, including Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister Victor Khristenko; St. Petersburg's governor Valentina Matvienko; Korea’s Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun; Korean Ambassador to Russia Lee Youn-ho; and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-Koo.

“Hyundai Motor Company plans to create 5,300 jobs by 2012 in St. Petersburg together with eleven parts suppliers from Korea and, furthermore, contribute to the advancement of Russia’s automotive industry by developing and supporting local automotive parts manufacturers,” Chairman Chung said at the ceremony.

There are about 2,000 people currently working at the plants of HMMR and its suppliers. A large number of Russian employees were sent to Hyundai’s plants in Korea and the Czech Republic for abroad training and acquired professional skills to build high-quality cars.

From steel stamping to assembly, the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus carries out “full-cycle” manufacturing, being the first foreign automaker to have such a complete facility in Russia. The presence of a stamping shop will allow Hyundai to produce high-end stamped panels while having better control over production costs. In addition, the plant is equipped with modern state-of-the-art facilities that provide a high level of automation. For instance, the automation ratio in the welding shop is estimated to be more than 50 percent and Hyundai Motor’s goal is to increase that number to 80 percent in the near future.

Today at the grand opening, Hyundai Motor unveiled the first car to be produced at HMMR and also announced its name. Hyundai held a national car naming contest in the early summer of this year and “Solaris” has been selected as the winner among more than 27,000 entries from all over the country. The word Solaris is derived from a Latin word for sun, Sol, and implies Hyundai Motor’s strong will to expand its business in the Russian Federation with its new car.

The Solaris is the all-new four-door sub-compact sedan that is equipped with many new features tailored to meet local needs. Having roots in the Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy, Hyundai designers put their efforts to reflect the design concept key words “Sleek on Dynamic” in both exterior and interior. Furthermore, it will be powered by the modern Gamma engine, 1.6L or 1.4L DOHC in-line four cylinder gasoline engines that feature multiport fuel injection with Continuously Variable Valve Timing. By replacing the old Alpha engine of its predecessor with Gamma, the sedan promises more power and torque, as well as improved fuel economy, in keeping with Hyundai's pledge to be the industry's eco-leader.

Hyundai Motor plans to sell 85,000 units of Solaris annually in Russia starting 2011 including the 5-door hatchback model which will join the line-up later that year. Hyundai is confident that the new sub-compact sedan, with trendy and stylish design as well as vastly improved features, will attract and satisfy young Russian aspirants.