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Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant
Industry Automotive
Founded 1923
Founder Soviet Union
Headquarters Zaporizhia, Ukraine
Area served
Products Cars, vans, buses
Revenue Increase 12.95 billion (UAH)
Increase 564 million (UAH)
Parent UkrAVTO

ZAZ or Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant (Ukrainian: ЗАЗ, Запорізький автомобілебудівельний завод, Zaporiz'kyi avtomobilebudivnyi zavod or Zaporiz'kyi avtozavod) is the main automobile manufacturer of Ukraine, based in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia. It also produces buses and trucks and is known for its former parent company's name, AvtoZAZ.


From A. J. Koop to Kommunar

The company that became ZAZ developed out of four business founded by German entrepreneur Abraham J. Koop to manufacture agricultural machinery.[1] The factory had been built for local Mennonite industrialist Abraham J. Koop in 1863. It produced iron parts for the windmills, reapers, threshers and plows. They were nationalized and restarted as the state-operated Kommunar factory which continued to produce twenty-four types of machines;.[2] its first combine harvesters appeared in 1929, with 129,724 built by 1952 (not counting the war years).[3] In 1930 Kommunar started to produce the first Soviet harvester Kommunar which was based on the American Holt Caterpillar horse-drawn harvester. The production of the harvester allowed the Soviet Union to cease import of harvesters from abroad.

From harvesters to cars

Kommunar harvester

Design of a car accessible to the public, and one in part taking the place of the soon to be discontinued Moskvitch 401, began in 1956.[4] Following the growing trend of small cars (then accounting for between 25% and 40% of all European car sales), the minister in charge of Minavtroprom (the Soviet automotive ministry) selected the new Fiat 600 as the model to follow.[4] The first prototype, the MZMA 444, appeared in October 1957.[5] It was powered by a flat twin-cylinder MD-65 engine provided by the Irbitskeyeo motorcycle plant, which was "totoally unsuited": it produced only 17.5 hp (13.0 kW; 17.7 PS) and lasted only 30,000 km (19,000 mi) between major overhauls.[5] As a result, a search for another engine was begun, and the success of the VW Type 1's boxer led to a preference for an air-cooled engine, which NAMI (the National Automobile Institute) had on the drawing board.[5] Minavtroprom, however, preferred a 23 hp (17 kW; 23 PS) [6] 746 cc (45.5 cu in) V4, the NAMI-G, which had the additional advantage of being developed for the LuAZ-967.[5]

The new car was approved for production 28 November 1958,[7] the name changing to ZAZ (Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant) to reflect the new profile.[8] The Zaporizhia factory was supplemented with the Mikoyan Diesel-Building Factory in Melitopol, which was part of the Soyuzdiesel combinat.

The first car, dubbed the ZAZ-965 Zaporozhets, was delivered 12 June 1959,[6] was approved 25 July 1960, and entered production 25 October.[6][8]

Following on the success of the 965, plant manager Yuri Sorochkin planned a forward control microbus on the 965's platform (akin to the VW Type 2 being built on a modified Type 1 pan), with a 350 kg (770 lb) payload, as the ZAZ 970.[9] Sorochkin hoped to capture the market for compact utility vehicles, which were in perennially short supply in the Soviet Union.[10] The project was prototyped by a team under Yuri Danilov, which pioneered use of 0.7 mm (0.028 in)-thick steel in the Soviet Union.[11] (The steel was provided by Zaporozhets Metallurgical Plant.[11] The engine and transmission were straight out of a 965, which caused liftover problems, because the V4 was mounted under the rear floor.[12] Three prototypes were built in 1962: a van with 350 kg (770 lb) payload and 2.5 m3 (88 cu ft) volume, a pickup with a 400 kg (880 lb) payload, and a microbus able to seat six or seven plus a 175 kg (386 lb); even four-wheel drive models (971, 971B, and 971V) were planned.[12] None was built.[12]

Further growth in Ukraine

In 1975 the factory was consolidated in the AvtoZAZ holding, which was transformed into joint-stock company in 1990s. In 1986 ZAZ together with Comau installed a new production complex. The Illichivsk factory of automobile parts (IZAA) in one of the biggest freight sea ports on Black Sea in Illichivsk became part of the AutoZAZ holding. Newer front wheel drive cars are based on model 1102 Tavria (1989–2007) and are powered by a water cooled, front mounted MeMZ engine and fall into micro-class. On June 1, 1994 the factory ceased production of its 968M model.

When AvtoZAZ-Daewoo joint venture with Daewoo Motors was formed in 1998, ZAZ was assigned to the new company as a 50% share on behalf of AvtoZAZ. Daewoo Motors made large investments and established the production of its own models, while keeping and modernizing the native ZAZ brand. CKD kits of Daewoo Lanos started assembling the same year in Illichivsk; at the same time, CKD assembly of a number of older VAZ models started.

Following the bankruptcy of Daewoo Motors in 2001, UkrAVTO corporation bought out AvtoZAZ holding in 2002. All of the AvtoZAZ manufacturing facilities (most notably, MeMZ and Illichivsk assembling plant)[13] were reincorporated into ZAZ. The company even adopted a new logo. The Daewoo part in the joint venture was bought out by Swiss venture Hirsch & CIE in 2003.

End of 2004 saw the beginning of full-scale production of completely domestic ZAZ Lanos (T150), now that CKD kits of Lanos were no longer supplied. In 2006, ZAZ reached an agreement with the Chinese manufacturer Chery Automobile to assemble passenger cars from kits and from 2011 started full-scale production of the Chery A13 under its own badge as ZAZ Forza. The same year production of the Chevrolet Aveo (T250) was moved from the FSO car factory to ZAZ.

By Decree of the President of Ukraine, CJSC "ZAZ" employees were rewarded with State awards of Ukraine in 2009.

USSR 1971 stamp

In the first half of 2012 ZAZ manufactured 20,060 vehicles, a 30% decline from the same period in 2011.[14] In 2012 Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant started serial full-scale production of new car model - ZAZ Vida.

ZAZ and its reputation

ZAZ's products were never held in high esteem by Soviet citizens. In fact, ZAZ's original mission was to create a "people's car", almost like Volkswagen's initial mission. In May 2009, ZAZ won the international tender for the production of vehicles for veterans and disabled people of Azerbaijan.

Russian president Vladimir Putin owns a 1972 Zaporozhets model.[15]


Full-scale production[16]

Complete knock down assembly

Performed at the Illichivsk Automobile Parts Plant:[20][21]

Aerial view on IZAA
Kia Cerato assembly at IZAA
TATA LPT-613 truck assembled at Melitopol Motor Plant

Performed at the Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant:[20][23]

Performed at the Melitopol Motor Plant:


Currently produced cars and buses under ZAZ brand

Older models


  1. Thompson, Andy. Cars of the Soviet Union (Haynes Publishing, Somerset, UK, 2008), p.88.
  2. Thompson, p.87.
  3. Thompson, p.88.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thompson, pp.88-89.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Thompson, p.89.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Thompson, p.92.
  7. Thompson, p.90.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "ZAZ-965/965A" (in Russian). Avtolegendy SSSR, Nr. 17. DeAgostini 2009. ISSN 2071-095X.
  9. Thompson, pp.205-207.
  10. Thompson, p.205.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Thompson, p.206.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Thompson, p.207.
  13. "Історія бренду TATA - Центр комерцiйноi технiки" (in Ukrainian). Центр комерцiйноi технiки. Retrieved 25 April 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Results of the first half of 2012". 9 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Meet Zaporozhets, a legend on wheels". 19 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Autoclub ZAZ
  17. "Corporation "UkrAvto" and CJSC "ZAZ" start full-scale production of "Lanos" car". 15 December 2004. Archived from the original on 27 January 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Запорожский автозавод определился с названием для новой модели (in Russian). 12 December 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Появились первые фото ЗАЗ Vida" (in Russian). 24 January 2012.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Оцінювання рівня спеціалізації продукції підприємства зат "ЗАЗ" (PDF) (in Ukrainian). Національна бібліотека України імені В.І. Вернадського, Київ. p. 5.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Quality management". 12 November 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "История марки ЗАЗ". Retrieved 9 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "ZAZ is ready for complete knocked-down production of "Opel Astra" vehicles". 3 March 2004. Archived from the original on 7 November 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Запорожцы заговорили по-немецки". 3 April 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links