VIENNA – General Motors Corp. has formed a joint venture with Uzbekistan’s state-owned AK Uzavtosanoat to assemble and distribute Chevrolet-brand vehicles.

The JV, which will be called GM Uzbekistan, is the successor to the current AOZT UzDaewooAvto plant located in Asaka, 217 miles (350 km) from the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

Under terms of the deal, GM will hold a 25% stake in the JV with an option to increase its share in the future. The auto maker will provide new technology, manufacturing expertise and employee training. Senior GM managers will hold key positions in the new JV, particularly in the areas of manufacturing, quality and sales and marketing.

"The start of operations in Uzbekistan and the launch of a series of new Chevrolet models will help us continue our rapid growth," General Motors Europe President Carl-Peter Forster says in a statement.

UzDaewooAvto, originally a 50/50 JV between the Uzbek government and the now-bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd., began production in 1996. The plant has been 100% controlled by the government since 2005.

"We are very pleased to join forces with our reliable manufacturing partner in Uzbekistan," says GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. President and CEO Michael Grimaldi. "The new joint venture means we will have added manufacturing capacity to assist us in meeting the growing demand for our cars in Central Asia and Eastern Europe."

GM says the JV has a total manufacturing capacity of 250,000 units. The first three Chevrolets to be produced – the Captiva, Epica and Tacuma – will be assembled from semi-knocked-down kits. The plant eventually will build other vehicles from complete-knocked-down kits, with full-scale production reached over the next three years.

Until now, the Asaka-based plant assembled the Daewoo Matiz minicar, Nexia sedan and Damas small van for domestic and neighboring markets, with the majority of exports earmarked for Russia. In addition, the Daewoo Lacetti is built in small volumes.

The new Chevrolet models initially will be sold at seven showrooms in major Uzbek cities. By the end of 2008, the dealer network is expected to grow to more than 60 outlets.

UzDaewooAvto manufactured a record 112,718 vehicles in the year's first eight months, up 28.1% from like-2006, including 55,788 Nexia, 41,659 Matiz, 13,550 Damas and 1,721 Lacetti vehicles. Year-to-date, 67,787 vehicles have been exported.