President Vladimir Putin has started up the first foreign project of Mazda - a Mazda assembly line has been launched at the Vladivostok Sollers car plant, an Interfax correspondent reported from the plant.

"We are glad that the first foreign plant of Mazda is opening in the Russian Far East," Putin said at the launch ceremony.

"Such projects are very significant for Russia and regions. We are also pleased that projects are undertaken jointly with traditional partners," he said.

The Russian-Japanese project is particularly important for the region, "whose residents are accustomed to Japanese hardware," Putin said. "The only difference is that these vehicles are new," he said.

Initial investments in the JSC Sollers joint venture (a component of the Sollers Group) and LCC Mazda Motor Manufacturing Rus stand at $350 million.

"Initially, $350 million will be invested in the Mazda joint venture," JSC Sollers General Director Vadim Shvetsov told reporters on Thursday.

He said the plant would weld and paint car bodies.

The laying of a gas pipeline to the plant will start soon to shift to full-cycle production, he said.

"The Mazda Vladivostok plant will shift to the full cycle in two years," he said.

The joint venture is based on parity terms. The serial production of Mazda cars in Vladivostok will begin with the CX-5 model in October 2012. So far, the plant conveyer is being tested. The pre-pilot assembly works will begin in mid-September.

The plant will make 50,000 vehicles per annum at first. The rated capacity is 100,000 vehicles per year.

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