MOSCOW -- Aurus, the Russian maker of President Vladimir Putin's new luxury sedan, will launch a range of upscale vehicles next year and export them to global markets, including Europe and possibly the United States in the long term.
The Aurus Senat sedan was unveiled at the auto show here on Wednesday and will be followed by an SUV, the company said.
Aurus is a new Russian company that hopes to challenge Bentley and Rolls-Royce at the very top end of the luxury vehicle market. The brand is owned by a Russian automotive research institute known by the acronym NAMI in alliance with Russian automaker Sollers, which also partners with Ford in Russia.
It aims to start building cars at a rate of 150 a year at a NAMI facility until a new factory is completed that will increase production to 5,000 a year with the option of expanding capacity to 10,000, the company said, without giving a timetable.
Aurus is 75 percent owned by NAMI, with the other 25 percent owned by Sollers. Since 2004, NAMI has been deemed a "strategic enterprise" by the Russian government, meaning it is "essential for the national defense and security, protection of morale, health, rights, and legitimate interests of the citizens of Russia," according to the institute's website.