VIENNA – OAO Severstal-Avto, the Russian company that signed several cooperation agreements with Fiat Auto SpA this year, will begin distributing Fiat vehicles Sept.1.

Completely built-up Fiat Panda, Grande Punto, Croma, Doblo Panorama and Doblo Cargo vehicles will be delivered to Russian dealerships as part of the first stage of operations, the company says.

The price of the Fiat Grande Punto, which is seen as Fiat’s most important import model for the Russian market, will start at Rr420,000 ($15,730).

Late this year or in early 2007, Severstal-Avto will add the locally assembled Fiat Albea and Doblo. The cars will be assembled at the OAO Zavod Mikrolitrazhnykh Avtomobiley (ZMA) car plant.

Severstal-Avto says it plans to have 35 Fiat dealers by the end of 2006 and 50 by the end of 2007. Vadim Shvetsov, Severstal-Avto's general director, says the company expects to sell 2,400 Fiat vehicles this year and 36,500 in 2007.

Up to now, Fiat sales in Russia mostly have been symbolic, with only 93 vehicles delivered in 2005, according to Russian car-market statistics.