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Let’s be honest, Russia builds some crappy things. Some of those things include automobiles. Back in the Cold-War days, a Russian manufacturer made a real piece of junk called Moskvich. Built between 1946 and 2001, Moskvich means “Moscovite” or “native of Moscow.” Now, Russia is taking its empty Renault facilities and repurposing them to build Chinese cars labeled Moskvich. 

How bad was the Moskvich?

Driver changing a tire on his red Moskvich | Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty

Many citizens of Moscow hid their residence location because of Moskvich, it was that bad. We’re kidding, but these cars were junkers when new. They were not called unreliable, but rather “disposable.”

With most foreign manufacturers ceasing production due to sanctions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it had a lot of empty auto plants on its hands. At least it realizes that branding cars as Moskovich for nostalgia’s sake are not a great inducement. But by starting with cars engineered in China by JAC, it will make it harder for plant workers to assemble marginal vehicles.

Russia likes to repurpose other country’s old cars

As Chinese cars are the best-selling and most popular in Russia, this alignment makes sense. Russian President Vladimir Putin says the cars will be cheaper than those currently available. This is a typical move for new Russian vehicles. In 1946, it acquired the rights to the German Opel Kadett, rebadging it the Moskvich 400. Later in the 1950s, however, it began manufacturing its own engineered vehicles called Moskvich 402 to 407, and the 410. The M-407 saw sales in Norway, Finland, and France. 

Between now and the end of 2022, it expects to produce 600 JAC/Moskvich crossovers, of which 200 will be electric. The JAC vehicles include the Jiayue X4 compact crossover, which is also available in Brazil as the T60 Plus. The E40X is an electric version of the T60. This will be the first production electric Moskvich.

When will these new Moskvich cars arrive?

A shepherd’s camp with white Moskvich | Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty

In 2023 it expects to assemble 50,000 cars. EVs will be 20 percent of that production. By 2024, it is estimating 100,000 Moskvich cars will leave the assembly lines. OAO Moskvich is a privately owned company.

The facility in western Moscow was abandoned in 2006. Everything from unfinished cars on its production line to desks, computers, and office equipment left intact. Numerous attempts were made to restart production because it could have been accomplished by merely flipping the electricity back on.

It is now the “Moscow Automobile Factory Moskvich.” It has been empty since Renault shuttered operations in May 2022. Two months later, the factory was being primed to make Moskvich crossovers. Though we doubt we’ll be able to get our hands on one to test if we do we’ll bring our conclusions to you.