Russo-Balt (sometimes Russobalt or Russo-Baltique) was the first Russian company that produced cars between 1909 and 1923.
The Russo-Baltic Wagon Factory (Russisch-Baltischen Waggonfabrik; Русско-Балтийский вагонный завод, RBVZ) was founded in 1874 in Riga, then a major industiral centre of Russian Empire. Originally the new company was a subsidiary of the Van der Zypen & Charlier company in Cologne-Deutz, Germany. In 1894 the majority of its shares were sold to investors in Riga and St. Petersburg, among them local Baltic German merchants F. Meyer, K. Amelung, and Chr. Schroeder, as well as Schaje Berlin, a relative of Isaiah Berlin. The company eventually grew to 3,800 employees.
Between 1909 and 1915 the cars were built at the railway car factory RBVZ. After the 1917 revolution a second factory was opened in St. Petersburg, where they built armoured cars on chassis produced in Riga. In 1922, the production was moved from St. Petersburg to BTAZ in Moscow. Russo-Balt produced trucks, buses and cars, often more or less copies of cars from the German Rex-Simplex or Belgian Fondu.
Only two original cars have survived to the present day. One is a Russo-Balt fire engine built on truck chassis Type D in year 1912. Car is on display at the Riga Motor Museum in Latvia. Another one is Russo-Balt K12/20 from 1911, is shown at the Polytechnical Museum in Moscow, Russia.
Today in Riga, Latvia, there is a company named Russo-Balt that manufactures trailers. There are no connection to pre-war Russo-Balt except company name.
The brand "Руссо-Балт" was exhumed in 2006 by a group of German and Russian investors to propose a luxury concept car, the Russo-Baltique Impression, billed as a coupé with strong hints of European styling of the early thirties. The car uses mechanical parts of Mercedes origin (Mercedes CL63 AMG), was first introduced at the 2006 Concours d'Elegance.
The car will be produced by the German company Gerg GmbH, a total production of 10 to 15 cars maximum is expected, with a production rate of 2 to 3 cars a year. The selling price would be of around 50,000,000 rubles or 1,800,000 US dollars.