By on August 21, 2018

Foreign markets are no stranger to selling cars that have long gone out of production here in the States. The VW Beetle was produced for sale in Mexico well after the calendar flipped into Y2K, while the Nissan Tsuru — essentially a Sentra from the mid-90s which remained in production until 2017 — bit the dust after crash tests showed it to be the structural equivalent of a wet cardboard box. The Peugeot 405 stuck around as a new car in Iran longer than just about anywhere else on the planet.

GM has a plant in Uzbekistan employing 8,000 people, with the capacity to make about 250,000 cars a year. Some nameplates you’ll recognize, like the Chevy Tracker. A few are renamed versions of machines long-gone from the American market. And others are familiar names dressed up in strange sheet metal.

Our esteemed Associate Editor, currently traipsing around Newfoundland in the new GMC Sierra, is an unabashed fan of the Chevy Cobalt. His object of desire is probably not the one they make in Uzbekistan, though. With headlights stretched like a botched Hollywood facelift, the Cobalt shown here bears little resemblance to the machine that plies our roads. That interior looks familiar, with dash gauges nabbed from an American-market Spark and a steering wheel that’s shown up in any number of Chevys on this side of the pond.

Others, like the Spark and Matiz, simply seem to be continuations of those nameplate’s last-gen models, complete with the funky colors for which they were know. I’m digging the side stripe on this Chevrolet Damas van.

The Tracker, slated for appearance later this year, appears to be a Trax-type crossover, sharing a heckuva lot of sheet metal with the mini-crossover currently being floorplanned at dealer lots across the nation. Comparing this modern machine to the Damas above, it’s hard to believe they inhabit the same planet, let alone the same showroom.

This helpful overlay demonstrates the Tracker’s size compared to a nameless compact sedan, two humans, and — critically — a dog. I now plan to embark on a campaign to lobby all American manufacturers to include a dog in the dimensions section of their press releases.

Fun fact: in Uzbekistan, GM’s offerings are marketed under the Chevrolet banner, as shown  here. Outside those borders? Look for a Ravon badge, a name which puts me immediately in mind of Buddy Holly or maybe even John Mellencamp.

According to Wards Auto, Uzbek State statistics say last year’s total production at GM Uzbekistan grew more than 50 percent to 135,471 vehicles, compared to 2016. The Nexia (old-school Aveo) accounted for the lion’s share of production, at 34,000 units. Those in the know say The General has high hopes for this business, as it could help grow its presence in the Middle East and African markets.

[Images: General Motors]

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10 Comments on “Back in Time: GM Uzbekistan Increases Production of Cars Forgotten Here...”

  • avatar

    That Chevy Damas looks like an eighth-generation Suzuki Every.

    • 0 avatar
      Prove your humanity: 9 + 8 =

      You’re on the right track. It’s a badge-engineered Suzuki Every, AKA Suzuki Carry. It has an 800cc engine and can carry up to seven people… very slowly. It comes to GM via their takeover of Daewoo.

  • avatar

    It originally was Daewoo plant making Daewoo Nexia sedans and nothing else for the huge Soviet market. Nexia was a heavily restyled previous generation Opel Kadett. It was much better car than whatever VAZ was making at the time.

    • 0 avatar

      See my comment in the “badge engineering” thread posted earlier yesterday, that Uzbek plant and the myriad of older cars it has cranked out is nothing short of crazy, with all the name sharing/swapping.

      I read budget family car comparisons in Russian car magazines in the early 2000s, the Nexia was indeed a rather viable option at the time compared to even the newer FWD Ladas, based largely on the fact that the Nexia was better built and more reliable. The demerits were a somewhat tight rear seat (not much worse than a Lada 2110), and substantially less ground clearance and less suspension travel than the Russian options once an oil pan skidplate was installed. I believe the Daewoo had a measly 125mm of clearance to the Kalina and 2110’s ample 165mm (185mm without the skidplate). The Renault Logan was the clear winner at the time with the roomiest interior, best ride/handling balance, and was specifically engineered for bad roads as far as clearance and durability were concerned.

      • 0 avatar

        I had Lada Sputnik a.k.a. 2108 and it was a rugged car indeed. I drove off road occasionally, e.g. go to picnic or cut the traffic on country roads. Oil pan got couple of dents but was okay. Later I bought Toyota and it was flexing and rattling even on very minor off road. It was scary to drive it even on freeway (compared to Lada or German cars). Since then I avoid Toyota even as a rental car. Lada actually was fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar

          “Later I bought Toyota and it was flexing and rattling even on very minor off road.”

          Odd you say that, the Samara family and 2110s are notorious for being absolute rattle-traps relative to older J-cars, although after enough rough-road use everything starts to get shaken to death.

  • avatar

    Hasn’t this – shipping old tooling to other countries – been going on a long time? Wasn’t the original Lada a Fiat? What seems different here is that GM is running the factory and keeping it’s main name, Chevrolet, on the cars.

    Ford did the same thing with its Model T variants long after the Model A took over in the US. Even Chrysler was making and selling previous versions of its Valiant in Brazil, as Dodges and Chryslers, though with modified sheet metal.

    I wonder what took GM so long?

  • avatar

    Suddenly the 2019 camaro ss isn’t the worst thing to look at.

  • avatar

    I’d be curious if the Traxer has a different rear end than we get here from the Trax and if it looks any better. Generally speaking, from the picture provided, that blue Traxer isn’t wholly unpleasant.

  • avatar

    That Cobalt is better looking than the current Cruze, actually.

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