TAGANROG, Russia – OOO Taganrogsky Avtomobilny Zavod (TagAZ), the South Russian car plant owned by FPG Doninvest, adds welding operations to its assembly of Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.’s Accent here.

Hyundai Sonata may be added to Accent assembly in Russia.

In the past, TagAZ-sourced welded bodies from the Turkish plant Hyundai Assan Otomotiv Sanayii ve Ticaret A.S. and painted them in its own paint shop. Since the shift to welding operations, the company now sources parts directly from South Korea.

Assembly of the Hyundai Accent started in 2001, and the auto maker turned out 1,755 Accents last year. “We plan to assemble 11,000 units in 2003,” says Andrey Kudin, TagAZ’s deputy commercial director.

There currently are 93 dealers selling the Russian-assembled Accent, and TagAZ plans to increase the number. The dealer network for the locally assembled Accent is separate from the network that sells imported Hyundai models.

By year’s end, TagAZ will start assembly of a second Hyundai model. There is no official decision as to which model that will be.

However, Kudin says the car will be larger than the Accent but will not be an SUV. Earlier reports mentioned the Hyundai Sonata as the possible second model.

TagAZ last year phased out assembly of the Citroen Berlingo, badged the Doninvest Orion M in Russia.