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Serbian automaker Zastava, General Motors sign Opel deal

Serbian automaker Zastava and General Motors Corp. signed on Thursday a contract for the local assembling an Opel model starting next year.

The Opel Astra Classic cars would be assembled in Zastava's factory in Kragujevac, central Serbia, starting from the Q3 of 2008 in accordance with the contract, said Duncan Aldred, General Motors marketing and sales director for Central and Eastern Europe, at a press conference in Belgrade. Germany-based Opel is part of the General Motors group.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that the goal was for the Serbian automaker to produce about 10,000 vehicles annually by 2010. “This contract is good for Kragujevac and domestic car industry, because we thus join the trends of technology and business operation of the international automotive industry,” he said.

The state-owned Zastava, which exported Yugo car to the United States in the 1980s, produced 15,000 cars last year but well under its annual capacity of 60,000. It also has a deal to assemble Italy's Fiat Punto model under the name of Zastava 10. Meanwhile, the Serbian government had approved the import of 8, 300 duty-free Opel Astra cars. The first 3,300 vehicles will be imported by the end of 2007 and 5,000 in 2008, to be sold at a price of €10,800 ($14,900) for the basic version, which previously cost €12,800 ($17,700). (