VIENNA – ZAO GM-AvtoVAZ, the joint venture of General Motors Corp., Lada maker OAO AvtoVAZ and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, appoints John G. Hanson as its new managing director.

Hanson, who served as director-new business development within GM’s North American International Product Center in Detroit, replaces Richard Swando, who becomes managing director, GM Manufacturing St. Petersburg, effective April 1.

GM-AvtoVAZ manufactured 47,881 Chevrolet Niva SUVs and Viva sedans last year, down 7.6% from 2005. Assembly of the Chevrolet Captiva SUV from semi-knocked-down kits sourced from GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. was launched last fall at a temporary location in St. Petersburg. The first batch of 250 Captivas also were assembled in 2006.

In the future, the Captiva and a second Chevrolet model are to be assembled in a new plant in St. Petersburg.

The auto maker’s dealership network last year totaled 124 in 77 cities in Russia and nine in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova.

GM-AvtoVAZ plans to add 11 more dealers in Russia this year.