At a ceremony attended by Russian government officials production was officially started at the plant in Togliatti.
GM said: 'The Chevrolet Niva represents a new level of value for the Russian market. Based on local development and built in the 'state-of-the-art' production facility in Togliatti, the 4x4 small sport utility vehicle is expected to sell for about $8,000, placing it in the largest price segment of the Russian market.'
And General Motors Corporation chairman Jack Smith added: 'The fact that just 15 months ago we signed this agreement and today, we stand here in this brand-new facility to mark the start of production of an all-new vehicle, demonstrates the incredible dedication and commitment of all who have been involved in this project.
'It reflects the importance we place on being present in the Russian market - utilising local expertise and resources to tap the vast potential of this important growth market.'
For the first full year of production, GM-AvtoVAZ plans to produce 35,000 Chevrolet Nivas. By 2005, production is expected to reach 75,000 units.