The YouTube videos of the meteorite attack on Russia’s Chelyabinsk region come to you courtesy of a new custom. More and more Russian drivers have a video camera on the dash. Read More >
An alleged environmental measure will land Russia in the court of the World Trade Organization, a club Russia had joined only in August. Importers have to pay a “recycling fee” of around 5 percent of a car’s sticker price, local makers do not. “Russia’s trading partners say the new levy is a purely protectionist play under the guise of environmental ‘recycling’,” Reuters writes. “The European Union Trade Commissioner, Karel de Gucht, has threatened to invoke the disputes procedure of the World Trade Organization.” Read More >
With the stroke of a few pens putting signatures under a contract in Moscow today, then Renault-Nissan Alliance has become Russia’s largest automaker. The Alliance took control of AVTOVAZ, maker of the market-leading Lada brand. Lada holds 30 percent of Russia’s rapidly growing car market. Read More >
Next week, Russian and Japanese dignitaries will assemble in the frigid Siberian port city of Vladivostok to celebrate the opening of the first Japanese car plant in the Russian Far East. On September 6, Mazda will start Russian production of its best-selling CX-5 SUV and the new Mazda6 sedan, says The Nikkei [sub] – most likely after having received an invitation. Read More >
As part of a very Russian “incentive program”, GM is more than doubling the output of its wholly owned manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg, Russia. Annual production will increase to 230,000 vehicles by 2015, up from 98,000 units currently. Read More >
Who needs a mid-engined rice racer to drift? Latest dispatches from Russia show that with a little training, your can even drift when pulling a trailer. This creates so much enthusiasm that the camera car engages in a little sympathetic drifting as well.
They did not know that TTAC’s man in the cold was surreptitiously snapping pictures with his iPhone. Again-elected Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin simply watched while Renault COO Carlos Tavares defaced the hood of a brand-new car with a Magic Marker. Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga grinned and did not interfere either. This is how they celebrate the opening of a new car factory, this afternoon in Russia. Read More >
If GM needed another reason to let Saab die on the vine, it just arrived: Vladimir Antonov, the Russian banking scion, longtime partner with Victor Muller in Spyker, and erstwhile Saab rescuer is wanted in connection with what the UK Press Association [via Google] calls
a pre-trial investigation into an alleged fraud and money laundering case that is threatening to destroy two Baltic banks.
Bertel noted earlier that Snoras, one of Antonov’s banks, had been forced to halt operations, but the issuing of a Europe-wide arrest warrant for Antonov is an even bigger black mark on the Russian financier. And it adds to an already-impressive family resume: Antonov’s father Alexander was shot seven times in a 2009 assassination attempt that has been connected to a Chechen blood feud, and the family has been accused of ties to organized crime by the FBI and Swedish authorities.
Better late than never: Honda is following a long line of other manufacturers to Russia, and will be assembling cars there. This according to a report in The Nikkei [sub]. It is said that Honda has submitted a plan to Russia’s Economy Ministry for the production of 30,000-50,000 cars per year.
The Russian government had been strong-arming the industry for a while. Either set up assembly sites in Russia and enjoy favorable treatment for the parts to come in. Or stay out and face grim import duties that exclude even the average oligarch from your target group. Read More >
Now that it has been first leaked then confirmed that the European Investment Bank EIB will not let Russian financier Vladimir Antonov get close to Saab, Antonov says he had known that all along.
Antonov’s spokesman Lars Carlstrom told Reuters that his boss “has known for a few weeks that the EIB would not let him invest in the iconic Swedish car firm,” Reuters reports. That revelation should come as another blow to Saab’s crumbling bastion of enthusiasm, Saabsunited, which had reported just yesterday that “Antonov is trying to save the situation.”
With the troops left dazed and demoralized, the generals practice the ancient art of finger pointing. Read More >
Surf over to www.lada.ru, and click on “Автомобили” (automobiles), and you’ll find four model lines: Priora, Kalina, Samara and the classic, Putin-favored 4×4. Not pictured in the lineup, but still present in a sidebar on the site, is a link for one more model: the 2107. The first 2107 (then called the 2101), was built in April, 1970, developed off the internals of the Fiat 124, which itself was already four years old. And ever since 1970, the 2101 “Classic” has been rolling off an assembly line in Tolyatti, providing over 16.8 million sets of cheap wheels (MSRP: about $7,500)… and the model accounts for two-thirds of all Ladas ever built. But, reports Automotive News Europe [sub]‘s Luca Ciferri:
The Classic was scheduled to die at the end of 2009 when sales began fading, but the Russian government scrappage program introduced in March 2010 gave it a new lease of life. Helped by the incentive, Classic sales last year doubled to 136,006, making it Russia best-selling car by far. In the first half of this year, sales grew 35 percent to 69,500.
But the scrapping program ended in May, heralding the end for the Classic.
The Lada Classic will be replaced by the Lada Granta, which was launched inauspiciously, when, in a scene straight from “Borat,” the car refused to start for President Vladimir Putin. But perhaps, if the Granta is built for another 40 years, car writers will be looking back fondly at it someday.