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JSC AvtoVAZ Common
Public joint-stock company
Traded as MCXAVAZ
Industry Automotive
Founded 1966
Headquarters Tolyatti, Samara Oblast, Russia
Key people
Bo Inge Andersson (President)[1]
Carlos Ghosn (Chairman)[2]
Products Automobiles
Revenue Increase RUB190.7 billion (2014)[3]
Fall RUB-14.6 billion (2014)[3]
Fall RUB-24.8 billion (2014)[3]
Total assets Increase RUB164.8 billion (2014)[3]
Total equity Fall RUB34.9 billion (2014)[3]
Owner Alliance Rostec Auto BV (75%)[4]
Website Official website

AvtoVAZ[5] (Russian: АвтоВАЗ) is the Russian automobile manufacturer formerly known as VAZ: Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod (ВАЗ, Во́лжский автомоби́льный заво́д, or Volga Automobile Plant), but better known to the world under the trade name Lada. The current company name is "AvtoVAZ".

AvtoVAZ produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Kalina family (hatchback, wagon and crossover), Lada Granta family (sedan and liftback), Lada Priora family (sedan, hatchback, wagon and coupe), Lada 4x4 (former Lada "Niva") and Lada Largus (Renault-Nissan platform), as well as the cars of Renault-Nissan alliance brands: Renault Logan 2, Datsun on-Do (the Nissan sub-brand) and Nissan Almera New.

The VAZ factory is the largest car manufacturer in Russia and Eastern Europe[6] and one of the largest in the world, with over 90 miles (140 km) of production lines; it is unique in that most of the components for the cars are made in-house.


AvtoVAZ headquarters

The company was established in the late 1960s in cooperation with Fiat, with Viktor Polyakov (later Minister of Automobile Industry) as director, and Vladimir Solovyov being the chief designer,[7] and intended to produce popular economy cars that would meet the growing demand for personal transport.[8] It was set up as a collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union and built on the banks of the Volga River in 1966. A new town, Tolyatti, named after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, was built around the factory.[8] The Lada was envisaged as a "people's car" like the Citroën 2CV or the VW Type 1. Production was intended to be 220,000 cars a year, beginning in 1971; car production actually began before the plant was finished in 1970.[9] The VAZ trademark, at first, was a silver Volga boat on a red pentagonal background, with "Togliatti" superposed in Cyrillic (Тольятти); the first badges, manufactured in Turin, mistakenly had the Cyrillic "Я" rendered "R", instead (ТольRтти), making them collector's items.[10]

The lightweight Italian Fiat 124, which had won the 1967 European Car of the Year,[11] was adapted in order to survive treacherous Russian driving conditions. Among many changes, aluminium brake drums were added to the rear, and the original Fiat engine was dropped in favour of a newer design also purchased from Fiat. This new engine had a modern overhead camshaft design, but was never used in Fiat cars. The suspension was raised to clear rough Russian roads and the bodyshell was made from thicker, heavier steel. The first Lada models were equipped with a starting handle in case the battery went flat in Siberian conditions, though this was later dropped. Another feature specifically intended to help out in cold conditions was a manual auxiliary fuel pump. About 22,000 VAZ-2101s were built in 1970, with capacity at the end of 1973 reaching 660,000 a year; 21 December, the one millionth 2101 was built.[9] A third production line was added in October 1974, boosting output to 2,230 cars a day.[9] The same year, total VAZ production reached 1.5 million.[9]

The Volga automaking plant in 1969

Exports to the West began in 1974; Ladas were sold as in several Western nations during the 1970s and 1980s, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, though trade sanctions banned their export to the United States. Under the original agreement with Fiat, the car could not be sold in competition with the 124 until its replacement (the Fiat 131 Mirafiori) had been released and all Fiat production of the 124 had ceased.

Engines fitted to the original Ladas start with the 1.2 L carubretted in the original and go up to the 1.7 L export model set up with a General Motors single point fuel injection system. Diesel engines were later fitted for the domestic market only. The drivetrain is a simple rear-wheel drive setup with a live rear axle. The engine is an inline four with two valves per cylinder and a single overhead camshaft.

The Fiat-derived Ladas featured various headlights, trim and body styles. The original, Fiat-based models included the VAZ-2101 sedan and the VAZ-2102 station wagon. 1972 saw the introduction of a deluxe version of the sedan, VAZ-2103, which was based on the Fiat 124 Special and featured a new 1.5 L engine and twin headlights. In 1974, the original VAZ-2101 was updated with new engines and interiors, whereas the VAZ-2102 underwent the same improvements in 1976. The body style with two round headlights was manufactured until 1988.

The VAZ-2106, introduced in December 1975 as an updated version of the VAZ-2103, was based on the 1972 Fiat 124 Special T, featuring different interiors and new 1.6 L engine. The 2106 was one of the most popular rear-wheel drive AvtoVAZ models in the past; its production ended in 2001 from Tolyatti, but continued at Izhavto (Izhevsk), ending there in December 2005.

In 1974, VAZ was given permission to begin producing Wankel engines under licence from NSU.[12] Work began in 1976, with a single-rotor Lada appearing in 1978; the first 250 of these went on sale in the summer of 1980.[12]

The VAZ-2105, based on the Fiat 124 mechanicals but modernised and restyled, was introduced in 1979 and marketed outside the Soviet Union under the Riva or Laika trade names, depending on the country. Square headlights and new body panels distinguish this car from the earlier models. A deluxe version, VAZ-2107, was out in 1982; it featured a better engine, refined interiors and a chrome radiator grille. In 1984, the VAZ-2104 station wagon completed the line-up. After about thirty years of production, the 2105 was discontinued in 2010, followed by the 2104 and 2107 in 2012. It is the third best selling automobile platform after the Volkswagen Beetle and the Ford Model T,[13][14] and one of the longest production run platforms alongside the Volkswagen Beetle, the Hindustan Ambassador and the Volkswagen Type 2.[15]

In the domestic market, these models were called Zhiguli. The Lada name was used for exports only, but a large share of Ladas was reexported from Eastern Bloc countries, so the brand was well known in the domestic market as well. By 2007, they were the cheapest automobiles available in the Russian market[16] and remain the most popular second-hand cars in Russia even after their production ceased.[17]

Technical and design center

After having built a number of prototypes and experimental vehicles, AvtoVAZ designers launched the first car entirely of their own design, the VAZ-2121 Niva, in 1978. This highly popular and innovative[18] SUV was made with off-road use in mind, featuring a gearbox with a four-wheel-drive selector lever as well as a low- and high-range selector lever. It has an original body style and the most powerful 1.7 L engine in the VAZ range. The Niva has also been available with 1.9 L Peugeot-sourced diesel engine. The Niva is still in production.

Based on the success of the Niva, the design department prepared a new family of front-wheel drive models by 1984, which was of a completely domestic design. Production started with the VAZ-21083 Sputnik three-door hatchback; the series was later renamed to Samara. It was the first front-wheel drive serial car built in the Soviet Union after the LuAZ- 969V.[19] The Samara engine was mostly designed and produced in-house, had a new single overhead camshaft (SOHC) design and was driven by a more modern rubber belt. The combustion chambers were developed in collaboration with Porsche. Its line-up featured a completely new body and interiors, front MacPherson strut independent suspension and rear torsion bar, rack and pinion steering, and an updated five-speed gearbox. The five-door VAZ-21093 hatchback followed in 1987, and the four-door 1.5 L sedan, the VAZ-21099, was introduced in 1990. The same year, the front sides and radiator grille were restyled on the whole Samara range.

A white 2108 would become the nine millionth Lada built, on 24 May 1985, with the ten millionth, on 9 October 1986, also a 2108.[20] The twelve millionth, a right-hand drive 2109, was produced 6 July 1989.[21]

The 2108-2109 models remained in production until 2001, when they were restyled with new side panels, interiors and 1.5 L fuel injection engines (though fuel injection was available as early as 1995). The Lada 2109 hatchback and the Lada 21099 sedan were restyled as Lada 2114 and Lada 2115, respectively. The 2104-21099 model range was transferred to IzhMash and ZAZ. In 2004, VAZ also introduced the Lada 2113, but this car never had much popularity. The Samara was finally discontinued in December 2013.

The VAZ-1111 Oka micro-car was introduced in 1988, and in 1991 the production was transferred to the KamAZ and SeAZ factories.

The VAZ-2120 Nadezhda minivan is based on the original Niva and was in low-volume production in 1998–2007. A five-door version of the Niva, the VAZ-2131, is produced since 1995. The dissolution of the Soviet Union delayed the production of new 110-series by a couple of years. The VAZ-2110 sedan was introduced in 1995, the 2111 station wagon followed in 1998 and the 2112 hatchback completed the range in 2001. These models are basically based on Samara mechanicals, with a new body and fuel injected engines as standard features, though carbureted versions have also been available up until 2001. The 110-series remains in production and has been continually updated over the years. For example, engines used to be 1.5 L units with either 8 or 16 valves, but these have now been upgraded to 1.6 L units that meet stricter emissions rules.

In 2008, AvtoVAZ was the largest automotive plant in Europe, able to build 750,000 cars a year.[22] The plant covers 600 ha (65,000,000 sq ft), with three assembly lines each 1,700 m (5,600 ft) long; at peak production, it employed 180,000.[22] And, unlike most Western factories, it is vertically integrated, producing almost every component in the plant itself.[22]

By the end of 2010, after the global financial crisis, automotive production in Russia had returned to pre-crisis levels.[23][24] Nine out of the ten most sold models in Russia in 2010 were domestically produced, with Avtovaz's Lada models topping the list.[23] In the first 7 months of 2010, sales of Lada cars increased by 60%.[25]

Market share

Economic instability in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, tightening emissions and safety legislation meant that AvtoVAZ withdrew from most Western markets by the late 1997. In later years, Lada is again exported. Today Lada has 15,7% of the Russian market, 37% in the segment up to 600 thousand rubles. The Lada is marketed in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and within the European Union, it has been made available in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, France, Germany and Egypt.[26]

Recent developments

GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint-venture with General Motors, adopted an updated version of the Niva, VAZ-2123, that was considered for production since the 1990s. Named Chevrolet Niva, it is being built on the venture's plant since 2001 and is exported to Europe and Latin America. In 2004, the Chevrolet Viva, a four-door version of the Opel Astra G, was introduced.

AvtoVAZ has also got into the sportier markets: several Ladas were factory-tuned and given a Momo steering wheel. A convertible was also produced. In 2003, VAZ presented the concept car Lada Revolution, an open single seater sports car powered by a 1.6 L engine producing 215 hp (160 kW). There are other experimental cars, such as the VAZ-210834 Tarzan SUV concept, VAZ-1922 monster truck and VAZ-2359 pick-up, all based on Niva. The VAZ-211223 110-series coupe, with the sister models 111 and 112 have been developed with a modern and luxurious look and feel, have been mass-produced, and are popular in Russia today.

Some models (mostly the police version) have a Wankel engine, though development (and production) of this engine stopped in 2004.[27] The main causes are special requirements for service and repair (mostly available only in Moscow & Togliatti) and very high fuel & lubricating oil consumption.

2005 saw the introduction of the new Kalina B-segment lineup to the market. AvtoVAZ has built a new modern plant for this model and is hoping to sell some 200,000 cars annually. Test production of the Lada 1118 sedan started in November 2004 and full-scale assembly was launched in May 2005. The Lada 1119 hatchback and Lada 1117 station wagon with updated DOHC 1.6L engines followed in 2006.The second generation of the car was revealed at the 2012 Moscow International Motor Show. It is basically a facelifted first generation, albeit with a slightly extended wheelbase and length, 13- or 14-inch wheel discs, electronic throttle control[28] and now produced only in hatchback and wagon form. In the fall of 2014 AvtoVAZ began production of a new modification, the Lada Kalina Cross.[29] The Kalina is also produced as the more powerful version named Lada Kalina Sport.[30]

The Lada Largus was launched in the Russian market in the middle of July 2012. In 2014, it got a new modification, the Lada Largus Cross.[31]

The restyled and modernised 110-series model Lada 2170 Priora is produced since March 2007. The Priora has been upgraded since the production started, and got a new robotized transmission.[32]

Another new model is the Lada Granta, a subcompact car developed in collaboration with Renault and produced in sedan, liftback, and Sport modifications. The car is qquipped with different transmissions. Mass sales started on December 2011.[33] The Lada Granta has been the best-selling model in Russia for more than 20 months.[34] launched the brand new Lada Vesta.[35][36]

In collaboration with Renault, AvtoVAZ created a CKD assembly of the Renault Logan.

AvtoVAZ suffered considerably in the 2008-2009 world economic crisis. In October 2008, the company was reported to possess over 100,000 unsold units, and desperately needed money to repay short-term debts. On March 31, the value of AvtoVAZ shares jumped by almost 30%, due to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's proclaimed determination to support the auto giant. Putin visited Togliatti, expressed his approval of the management for not initiating massive layoffs, and promised more than $1 billion in loans, cash, and guarantees.[37] In May, 2009, Putin bought an AvtoVAZ Niva SUV to show his support for the hard-pressed domestic producer.[38] The most efficient anti-crisis measure executed by the Russian government was the introduction of a car scrappage scheme in March 2010. Under the scheme, buyers of new cars could receive a subsidy of up to 600,000 rubles (20,000 USD).[39] Sales of Russia's largest carmaker Avtovaz doubled in the second quarter of 2010 as a result, and the company returned to profit.[40][41]

On 10 March 10, 2010, the Board of Directors of AvtoVAZ approved a business plan for the period until 2020, by which expected to increase its production to 1.2 million units per year by the end of the 2010s, as well as investments up to 3 billion euros.[42]

On 3 May 2012, the Renault-Nissan alliance has signed letter of intent to raise its stake in Avtovaz to a majority by taking a majority share of 67.13% of a joint venture with the Russian state-controlled company, Russian Technologies, to own 74.5% of Avtovaz. This would raise the share of the Renault-Nissan Alliance in AvtoVAZ to 51.01%.[43] Renault and Nissan will invest $750,000,000 in the joint venture.

In the same year, it was announced that Avtovaz and Sollers plan to jointly produce vehicles in Kazakhstan.[44] The plant, which will be open in 2016, will be built in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the eastern part of the country, and will produce around 120,000 cars a year.[45]

In 2013, Bo Andersson joined JSC AvtoVAZ as the President.[46]


Each model has an internal index that reflects the level of modifications, based on the engine and other options installed. For example, the VAZ-21103 variant has the 1.5 L 16V engine, while the VAZ-21104 uses the latest 1.6 L 16V fuel injection engine. Since 2001, trim levels are also indicated by including a number after the main index: '-00' means base trim level, '-01' means standard trim and '-02' designates deluxe version; for example, VAZ-21121-02 means Lada 112 hatchback with an 1.6L SOHC engine and deluxe trim.

The car's name is formed from 'VAZ-index model name. The classic Fiat 124-derived models were known on the domestic market as Zhiguli (Жигули) until the late-1990s, when the name was dropped; thus, the 2104-2107 range, as well as 110-series, actually lack a model name. The restyled Sputnik range was renamed Samara, but the Niva and the Oka retained their names. By the 2000s (decade), the VAZ designation was dropped from market names in favour of Lada and simplified export naming conventions were adopted, so VAZ-2104 effectively became Lada 2104, VAZ-2110 became Lada 110, VAZ-2114 became Lada Samara hatchback or Lada 114 and so on, though model indices continue to be used in both technical and marketing materials.

The model names varied from market to market and as such should not be used except to indicate a certain export market. Instead, it is advisable to refer solely to the model number as these are the same for all markets.

Classic Zhiguli



The Oka is a Russian city car designed by AvtoVAZ and sometimes branded as a Lada. This model was also produced in Russia by SeverstalAvto and SeAZ (the Serpuhov Car Factory), as well as in Azerbaijan by the Gyandzha Auto Plant. Series production of the Oka ceased in 2008.

Chevrolet Niva

The Chevrolet Niva is a GM modification produced at GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint venture between AvtoVAZ and General Motors, at its factory in Tolyatti from 2002. It is based on the original VAZ 2121 engine, transmission and most mechanicals of the Lada Niva.

Nissan Almera

In December 2012, the second generation of the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy began full-scale manufacturing at the AvtoVAZ plant as the new Nissan Almera.[47] It received its world premiere at the 2012 Moscow International Automobile Salon on 29 August 2012, and uses the same design as the Bluebird Sylphy, but a redesigned dashboard interior, adapted from the first generation Dacia Logan. The car has a 1.6-litre petrol engine (75 kW), with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

Models gallery

Currently produced cars developed by AvtoVAZ

Currently produced cars developed by other companies

Older models

Older Fiat-derived models

Racing, experimental or future models


Lada Granta WTCC
  • In 1970, AvtoVAZ CEO Viktor Polyakov set the task to create sport versions of the Lada 2101. The engines were built in Italy, whereas fine tuning was done by engineers in Togliatti.
  • In 1971, three sport cars based on the 2101 model took part in the Soviet Winter Rally Championship.[48] Later in the same year, a VAZ-Autoexport team earned their first prize, the Silver Cup in the 1971 Tour d'Europe.[49]
  • In the 1970s-1980s, the Autoexport racing team, using different Lada models, participated in different motorsport competitions. A special Zhiguli class was created for the Soviet Rally Championship. There were different rally & track races featuring Avtovaz sports cars.
  • In 1978, a Lada Niva took part in the famous Dakar Rally. It was also successful in a number of international competitions.[50]
  • In 2008, AvtoVAZ took part in the WTCC World Championship with the Lada 110.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, the VAZ racing team participated in a number of WTCC races. The main racing car was the Lada Priora WTCC.
  • In 2010, the LADA logo appeared on the Renault Formula 1 cars.[51]
  • In 2012, the Lada Granta Cup was launched. The first stage of the new race series began in Moscow on the Myachkovo race track.[52]
  • In 2013, AvtoVAZ returned to the WTCC championship. The team received a new car: the Lada Granta WTCC with the new driver, WTCC World Champion Robert Huff.[53]
  • Since the beginning of 2015, the Lada team takes part in the WTCC as Lada Sport Rosneft.[54] The race cars are Lada Vesta WTCC versions.

See also


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External links