TOGLIATTI, Russia - Murders and gang violence at the main AutoVAZ plant in Togliatti may be causing General Motors to rethink a proposed joint venture near St. Petersburg.
Two AutoVAZ officials were among 27 people murdered in October in Togliatti, a city of 800,000. By last week, police imported from other districts had brought the situation under control. At least 60 criminals were arrested.
Gangs thrive in the barter environment that surrounds AutoVAZ. Even the maker must trade cars it makes, for parts to build more.
'It seems to be a very difficult situation,' said a GM spokesman in Zurich. 'We want to take the time we need so we will find the best solution.' He said GM is 'committed to finding a solution. We believe in the Russian market, and AutoVAZ is a good partner.'
GM, AutoVAZ and the Finnish assembler Valmet Automotive are still in talks about their joint-venture plant to build Opels. Sources at Valmet and GM say talks have taken longer than expected.
GM's negotiators are David Herman, president of Adam Opel, and Greg DeYonker, a GM executive based in Zurich.