Russian PM test drives Europe's cheapest car

Updated: 2011-05-12 09:24


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MOSCOW - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin test drove on Wednesday a new concept car called Lada Granta, which is intended to be marketed as the cheapest car in Europe.

Russian PM test drives Europe's cheapest car

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inspects the interior of a new Lada Granta during his visit to the AvtoVaz car plant in the southern Russian city of Tolyatti May 11, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

Putin, who paid a working visit to the Autovaz car plant in Samara region, was able to start the engine of the budget sedan from the fifth attempt only and he tried twice to open the hood, according to reports by the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.

Upon completion of the 1,400-meter test drive, Putin said that Lada Granta was "good to carry potatoes," referring to the car's large luggage compartment.

Lada Granta is scheduled for mass production in December 2011. Autovaz says it will be the cheapest car in the European market, with its price ranging from 190,000 to 300,000 rubles (US$ 6,800-10, 800).

Autovaz, Russia's largest car plant, finished 2010 in black for the first time in nearly three years, according to its annual financial report published on Tuesday.

The company's report said that its earnings went up 57.5 percent compared to 2009, when it suffered losses of 49.2 billion rubles (about 1.77 billion dollars).

However, local experts say that Autovaz achieved net profit only due to the state's financial support, according to Moscow's business daily Kommersant.

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