THREE OTHER significant vehicle manufacturers exist in Russia besides AvtoVAZ, GAZ and Moskvich and all of them are in the market for partners.
UAZ, which makes military-style 4x4 vehicles in Ulyanovsk, and Kamaz, which builds heavy trucks and the AvtoVAZ-designed Oka small car in the Republic of Tatarstan, have both been in serious financial trouble. But they may be starting to recover.
The other significant automaker, Izhmash, in Izhevsk, last year agreed to a license deal to assemble 5,000 Hyundai Accents. It has recently been in discussions with Volkswagen Group, which wants to build Skoda Felicias in Russia.
The job is to match these Russian automakers with prospective partners from developed nations.
That is not as easy as it seems.
In addition to the Soviet-era carmakers, there are many other former state-owned enterprises that believe their only chance of survival is converting from products like military equipment, weapons and tractors to cars.
Given the ease of starting up auto assembly from complete knockdown (CKD) kits, these companies often offer a lower-risk - and lower-cost - entry to the market than the established carmakers.
The Koreans have been quick to exploit this option, with Hyundai, Daewoo and Kia all setting up CKD assembly in Russia.
Hyundai has set up four car assembly ventures in Russia. One is Khimexmash in Russia's Saratov region, which builds the Hyundai Accent and Sonata at an annual rate of 10,000 to 15,000 cars, entirely from Korean components.
An assembly project in the city of Barnaul, in the Altai territory, assembles the Galloper off-road vehicle in a joint venture with the local company Andsart.
The initial rate of 100 to 200 units per month will rise eventually to 2,000 units a month.
Rostov-based Krasny Aksai assembled around 20,000 Daewoo Nexia and Esperos under license in 1997. Daewoo is also in negotiations with the Taganrog combine harvester plant, which could make up to 120,000 Daewoos a year, and an ex-military truck plant in Bryansk.
Toyota will follow the Koreans, with a plan to assemble Hiace vans, minibuses and ambulances at the Tushino plant near Moscow at a rate of 2,000 vehicles a year, starting in December, eventually rising to about 10,000.
Meanwhile, the Kia-Baltika operation in Kaliningrad could offer Ford an easier way to enter the Russian market than its cancelled plan to build Transit vans and Escorts in St. Petersburg - if Ford succeeds in its bid to buy Kia.
A source at Avtodor, Kia's partner in Kaliningrad, said Ford is considering using Avtodor's capacity to build 80,000 cars annually to produce Ford cars, too. Avtodor is located in Kaliningrad's Free Economic Zone and is subject to import duty concessions.