General Motors Corp. will more than double the original planned capacity of its new assembly plant under construction in Shushary, Russia, to 70,000 units annually.

The Shushary facility, on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, is slated to launch production at the end of 2008 and will build Chevrolet Captiva cross/utility vehicles and a new-generation of small cars. The new small cars, like the Captiva, likely will be developed by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in South Korea.

GM is investing $300 million in the new plant, which is seen as a complement to the auto maker’s joint venture operations in Togliatti and Kaliningrad. The Togliatti plant, launched in 2001 with OAO AvtoVAZ, builds the Chevrolet Niva and Viva. Kaliningrad, opened in 2004 in a venture with ZAO Avtotor, assembles Cadillac, Hummer and Chevrolet models from semi-knocked-down kits.

Shushary will employ 900 workers, including engineers and managers, on two shifts of assembly.

Russia is now the fifth largest market in Europe, with 22% growth last year. GM sold more than 132,000 cars there in 2006, 84% Chevrolets. Through February, sales this year total 25,981, including 20,805 Chevrolet models, GM says.