PARIS -- Stellantis will begin exporting commercial vans to Europe from its factory in Kaluga, Russia, to meet increased demand.
Exports will start with three midsize sibling models, the Peugeot Expert, the Opel Vivaro and the Citroen Jumpy. Shipments are planned to start in February.
The vans produced in Russia would add to those made in Stelllantis plants in France and the UK amid growing demand for commercial vehicles, especially as home delivery services have boomed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stellantis said in a release Tuesday that production at the Kaluga factory doubled in 2021 compared with 2020.
The Kaluga factory, which has an annual capacity of 125,000 vehicles, is becoming a global export hub for Stellantis, and has added new programs in the past year.
They including plans to build the new Fiat Scudo (a version of the Peugeot, Citroen and Opel vans) for export at the end of 2022; production of diesel engines and manual transmissions for export; and the production of compact vans for a number of Stellantis brands.
The factory, a joint venture with Mitsubishi, began building vans in 2017 for the former PSA Group, which merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis.
It builds the Outlander and Pajero models for Mitsubishi.
Kaluga, about 180 km southwest of Moscow, has become a center of the Russian auto industry. Volkswagen Group opened an assembly plant there in 2007, as did Volvo trucks. Prominent suppliers in the area include Continental, Magna International and Visteon.
The U.S. government has threatened wide-ranging sanctions to deter Russia from invading Ukraine -- a move Moscow denies -- potentially blocking the country's access to global electronic supplies, including for the auto industry.
Reuters contributed to this report