VIENNA – GAZ Siber, the new Russian sedan based on the previous-generation Chrysler Sebring JR41, is proving to be one of the most popular attractions at the Interavto 2007 auto show in Moscow this week.

The new model, unveiled by OOO Avtomobilny Zavod GAZ at the show today, is slated to reach Russian dealerships next spring. The facelift for the Siber was performed by U.K.-based UltraMotive.

Compared with the U.S. version, the Siber is better adapted to Russia’s poor road conditions, GAZ says. The base version is powered by a 2.0L Chrysler LLC engine that makes 141-hp and will be priced at about $18,000. The Siber also will be available with 2.4L and 2.7L Chrysler engines.

“It is a very interesting project for GAZ,” GAZ Group CEO Erik Eberhardson says. “It is part of our effort to completely renew our product program and is absolutely necessary in view of our decision to play a role in the global automotive industry.”

The Siber will be manufactured at the GAZ plant in Nizhny Novgorod using Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Stratus tooling purchased from Chrysler’s Sterling Heights, MI, assembly plant, in the U.S. Job One is scheduled for March.

Some GAZ plant workers recently completed intensive training at Chrysler in the U.S. and Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co. KG in Austria. According to GAZ, Chrysler representatives will oversee vehicle quality.

Plans call for the production of 20,000 cars next year and 40,000 in 2009.

“Capacity for the Siber will be 65,000 units a year,” Eberhardson says.

GAZ has reserved capacity for possible production of other body styles off the Sebring platform. The plant has total installed capacity of 100,000 units annually. “It is not something we have decided on yet,” Eberhardson says of the additional models.

Local content at the start of Sebring production will be limited but is expected to grow rapidly, he adds. “We have signed a joint supplier agreement with Magna to speed up the localization of component manufacturing in Russia.”

More than 70 dealerships throughout Russia will sell the Siber. GAZ also has the right to sell the car in other Commonwealth of Independent States countries.