VIENNA – Volume assembly of Hyundai i40 sedans and wagons is under way at the Avtotor plant in Kaliningrad, Russia.

The i40 is the first Hyundai car built by Avtotor. Last year the Russian contract manufacturer launched assembly of Hyundai commercial trucks.

The next Hyundai model slated for Kaliningrad is the Equus. Avtotor will assemble both the standard Equus and long-wheelbase version called the Equus Limousine.

Avtotor is Russia’s largest assembler, with most cars produced from semi-knocked-down kits. Its portfolio includes BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Kia and Opel cars.

In addition to local output through Avtotor, Hyundai/Kia produce the Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio hatchbacks and sedans at a plant in St. Petersburg.

Avtotor is a long-term partner of Kia, with several of its models assembled in Kaliningrad to avoid import duties. In contrast, Hyundai until now imported its other models as completely built-up vehicles.

The struggling TagAZ plant in Taganrog, which now is candidate for Jeep assembly, used to produce some Hyundai cars from complete-knocked-down kits, but that cooperation has been terminated.

Avtotor assembled 249,635 cars last year, up 12.4% from 2011.

The total figure includes 82,887 South Korean Chevrolet and Opel cars, 48,489 European Opels and 3,973 North American Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. Also in that figure are 91,285 Kia vehicles and 23,001 BMWs.

Through February, Kia ranks No.3 and Hyundai No.4 in the Russian light-vehicle market.