ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- Russian and South Korean officials broke ground Thursday on Hyundai Motor Co. first manufacturing plant in Russia.
Officials tossed ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt to mark the start of construction at the site outside of St. Petersburg. The euro330 million (US$510 million) plant is set to start production in early 2011 and will manufacture 100,000 cars a year.
The new plant will be an ''an important production base that completes Hyundai's global expansion plans,'' the company said in a statement.
Hyundai currently delivers kits for a Russian partner, which then assembles the cars.
Foreign automakers have rushed to open plants in Russia to reach the growing number of consumers. Soaring world oil prices have boosted Russia's economy, lifting living standards and enabling more people to buy cars.
Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have plants outside St. Petersburg, and several others, including General Motors Corp. and Nissan, are also building their plants there.
''St. Petersburg has got a good geographical position for logistics and good infrastructure,'' Hyundai's Vice President Ahn Joo-soo said at the ceremony. ''This is a place where all leading automakers are and it's easier to get highly skilled workers.''
The company is planning to hire up to 1,600 workers, the city said.