When I went to Iceland to abuse some Subarus, I managed to visit a couple of Reykjavik junkyards and poke around a bit. In addition to the weird-to-American-eyes French cars and puzzling quantities of 1990s Chrysler products, I found this VAZ-2121 aka Lada Niva 3-door wedged nose-to-tail with a green Megane. (Read More…)
It’s hard enough to find a decent used car for $3,000. Nissan’s new line of Datsun cars are being designed in mind with a starting price of $3,000, and there’s only one way to make sure the cars come in at such a rock-bottom sticker – use a pre-existing low-cost platform.
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…)
Lada will end production of their Soviet-era 2017 sedan, since citizens no longer have to line up to buy a car and can purchase one of the free market. Sales of the 2017 were down 76 percent in Q1 2012, and Lada, which now makes vehicles that aren’t warmed over Fiat clones from the 1960′s, decided to axe the venerable sedan.
The best thing about the Soviet Corvair, aka Zaporozhets? The original idea was to rip off the design of the Volkswagen air-cooled engine for its powerplant, but Soviet engineers made their air-cooled four a V4 so that the cylinder heads would be more accessible when working on the engine in a mud-floored lean-to in Kemerovo (no doubt using tools made on the spot from melted-down kitchen utensils). So why not make a limousine version? (Read More…)
Nearly every manufacturer out there is making a cheap car for the emerging markets. Renault has the Logan, Toyota has the Etios, Tata has the Nano and Ford has the Figo. The reasoning is pretty clear. In order to grow in these markets, you need to offer something that provides a painless upgrade path from a motorcycle to something with four wheels and a roof over your head. When makers like Renault, Ford and Toyota make an offering of this nature, you get the impression that there will be a certain level of quality in the car. Maybe not up to the level more mature markets are used to, but the standards will be high. That comes with a price. Now what if I told you that a certain car maker who is globally known for producing piles of cheap junk is making their own cheap car for emerging markets? What level of quality do you think that cheap car will have? (Read More…)
Renault may be playing Russian Roulette, but at least it seems the French automaker is finally playing nicely with Avtovaz and the Kremlin. Maybe the thought of ending up like Mikhail Khodorkovsky spurred Carlos Ghosn into action? Or maybe Ghosn came around when he found out that the Kremlin is going to put $1.7 billion into the ailing Russian car maker. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Renault will invest a mere €300 million in the form of of a technology transfer so that Avtovaz can start building the Logan, Renault’s smash hit in Eastern Europe. It’s like the Fiat-Chrysler deal, only cheaper! Renault will also help Avtovaz develop a new car to replace the Zhiguli (I’d never heard of it, either). Some of this production will happen in Russia’s far east and Renault’s Japanese subsidiary is there to help!
Renault may be about to learn the folly of buying into a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government instead of establishing a presence of their own. Renault recently took a 25% stake in Avtovaz and things have gone from bad to worse. Avtovaz cut its staff by 25% and is now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Which is why Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, on Sunday said “If the Renault-Nissan alliance wishes to increase its participation to the point where it takes control, Russia will not be against it,”. He then went on to say “we will have to go to other potential partners and investors,”. These are the words which Renault should pay close attention to.