Toyota Motor Corp. officially inaugurates its first plant in Russia, OOO Toyota Motor Mfg. Russia, based in the Shushary District of St. Petersburg.

TMMR is owned 80% by Toyota and 20% by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The $200 million plant has initial annual production capacity for 50,000 cars, with first-full-year output set at 20,000 units. But there’s room for expansion at the 553-acre (224-ha) site.

Originally, Toyota planned to build different vehicles at the plant, but the auto maker has opted to dedicate initial capacity to its Camry midsize car.

“I think we can fill the 50,000 with just the Camry,” says Tetsuo Agata, executive vice president-R&D and manufacturing for Toyota Motor Europe.

Agata says the plant will need to be expanded in order to add other models into the mix.

“We are hoping that one day the plant will produce 200,000 to 300,000 units per year,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe says during the opening ceremony at the facility. “Then we can start considering production of budget-class cars.”

The local content is limited for now, with the list including seats, glass, batteries and tires.

“Since time has been very short and initial volume will be very small, we have not been able to find that many European suppliers,” Agata says. “We can increase volume to maybe 40,000 to 50,000 units pretty soon, and gradually increase local content at the same time. This is our strategy.”

The plant is launching with about 600 employees. Some 70 team leaders received initial training at Toyota Motor Mfg. Turkey Inc. and Toyota Motor Mfg. UK Ltd. plants, then were sent to Japan for final training.

Toyota is the No.4 car brand in Russia behind Lada, Chevrolet and Ford. The company sold 132,597 vehicles through November, up 54% from like-2006.