VIENNA — Venture Industries Inc., a U.S. component maker and engineering specialist, is planning to build a new car in Russia.

A contract with the Moscow-based vehicle-maker OAMO ZIL and its main shareholder, the City of Moscow, was signed in March.

The plan calls for the production of a Venture-developed passenger car at the ZIL plant. Badged as a ZIL, the car will enter production in late 2003 or 2004 and will be powered by a 1.2L 3-cyl. 2-stroke engine licensed by Orbital Engine Co. and made at ZIL.

The project will build up to 50,000 cars and 300,000 engines in several versions annually. The partners involved in the project hope to sell the engines to other automakers, including OAO ZMA, a subsidiary of AO Kamaz, which could use a small engine for its Oka small car.

ZIL will use an assembly line that currently makes the Bychok light-commercial vehicle. Only 12,299 Bychoks were produced last year, but assembly line capacity is more than 200,000 vehicles annually. The investment of US$250 million will come from banks and energy conglomerates.

Venture already builds the Volga 3111 car and GAZ 3106 Ataman II sport/utility vehicle prototypes for OAO GAZ. It also is involved in the restyling of Oka cars and KamAZ trucks. Plus, the company provides materials for plastic car parts in Kazan, Tatarstan.

ZIL builds commercial vehicles and a few handmade limousines for Russian leaders. The mass production of an affordable front-wheel-drive car will be a new experience for the truckmaker.