Infiniti’s wanderlust has taken the QX80 to other faraway locations, but none quite as exotic as Privolzhskoe, Tver Oblast, Russia, to go glamping in Villi Ulei’s geodesic domes.
In what’s termed a comfort zone for climatic conditions in Russia, temperatures range from 9-degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, to a high of 66-degrees in the summer. As you can see, snowfall is abundant in the region, from a low of about 16 inches, to almost 32 inches, and it spans anywhere from four to five months of the year. Home to 1.35 million Russians, 30% of whom are Russian Orthodox, it might seem like a great place to go if it were summer at the Boishoe Zavidovo, when Nashestvie, the largest Russian rock festival, is being held.
Russian SUV maker UAZ, and Bremach, Inc., an American automotive manufacturer in Southern California, are introducing the Bremach 2022 Taos 4X4 mid-sized SUV. It matters little that you’ve not heard of UAZ or Bremach, they are collaborating to bring the Russian SUV and other vehicles to the U.S.
We’ve all seen movies set in the perpetually grey, bitterly cold Soviet Union (later Hollywood films featuring Russia were apparently allowed to show sunlight), but if you lived north of the border a few decades ago, it wasn’t just the weather that looked familiar.
Lada Canada imported Iron Curtain cars for two decades (1979 to 1997), offering rudimentary, pinko automobiles to Canadian cheapskates for very few kopeks. Your author recalls entering the high school library at the dawn of the internet age and slowly booting up the Lada Canada website, where a five-door Samara was advertised for $4,995. Few of these showed up on local roads, as Hyundai offered slightly better no-cost transportation options.
However, there was one Lada vehicle that can truly be considered a classic, and it’s the one everyone remembers best. Sadly, after more than 40 years of production, the virtually unchanged Niva (now known simply as the 4×4) seems destined, like the Berlin Wall, to pass into history.
You don’t have to be from a former Eastern Bloc country to feel strange pangs of desire for this Russian one-off. Built by Kalashnikov — yes, that Kalashnikov — the CV-1 concept car features an old body concealing an advanced electric powertrain.
The maker of the AK-47, AK-74, and various other automatic small arms apparently wants to stamp out Tesla’s decadent invasion of the Motherland’s fledgling EV market.
U.S. light vehicle sales sunk slightly in 2017 after years of increases, and this year’s not looking any different. In Russia, however, it’s the opposite situation. After making like the Germans at Stalingrad for the past three years, the Russian car market is now advancing like a T-34 tank — and it has the country’s most famous car brand to thank for it.
Leading the pack is none other than Lada, a company known for cranking out archaic, seemingly indestructible Iron Curtain cars for decades with only minimal changes. That was then, though, and this is now. Spurred by a rebounding economy, sales of new Lada models helped Renault-owned parent company Avtovaz drastically cut its losses in 2017.
Lada’s top brass can give credit to a very Western product strategy.
If Cadillac’s top boss, Johan de Nysschen, had his way, The Hunt for Red October would feature a scene in which Capt. Vasili Borodin describes his dream of seeing the United States in an Escalade, not an recreational vehicle.
While General Motors’ luxury division counts on American and Chinese buyers to keep it flush with cash, there’s still room in the fold for other markets. Assuming, of course, those citizens have a willingness to cast off deep-seated consumer habits and, perhaps, prejudices.
After dropping pedestrian vehicles for an all-prestige lineup, GM’s conquest of the Russian luxury market hasn’t yet occurred, though it’s still early days. Sales are looking up. With a new partner in tow, Cadillac feels confident it can muscle out the Germans on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Maybe it’s the cold, the dodgy economy, or lingering memories of decades spent lining up for milk. Whatever the motivation, Russians don’t seem to need the latest and greatest high-tech gadget to help them pass the time. Nope, just grab a few friends, spend a few rubles amassing a collection of ancient hatchbacks, and hit the ice.
The winter of 2017 has brought an inventive new sport to the frozen wastes of the Motherland, and locals can thank a plethora of worthless, Soviet-era crapwagons for the entertainment. Apparently, there are automobiles worth less than stones.
Everyone loves a good mystery, and in Russia it seems there are many. Read up on the Dyatlov Pass incident if you’re looking for a reason not to go camping.
In the country where a bearded charlatan once inspired a great disco song, something odd has cropped up in recent months. Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.
The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.
Russia, the country where Shoviet Shub captain Sean Connery learned to fish, might be on the verge of a modest economic rebound.
After tanking hard in the wake of collapsing oil prices, the country’s rickety economic state prompted many automakers to abandon plans for production growth or pull up stakes altogether. General Motors was a noted casualty, though Lada sailed through the turmoil in fine shape.
Early last year, it seemed as if parent Daimler would head west instead of building a Mercedes plant in the Motherland. However, that’s no longer the case, according to the country’s trade and industry minister.
There lived a certain man
In Russia not long ago…
Seemingly ordinary Russian men are prone to incredible — even Herculean — feats of strength and endurance, but the world didn’t know this until cheap dash cams became available in the Motherland. Watch as one truck (or SUV, we can’t tell) challenges its owner to a race.
That, an impromptu pants change leads to disaster in Vermont, and what to do if you spot a police officer driving your stolen Nissan, all after the break.
The Russian automaker that manufactures Lada vehicles won’t see Carlos Ghosn at its board meetings after this June.
The Renault-Nissan CEO and chairman is expected to be replaced as chairman of AvtoVAZ at the company’s June 23 shareholders meeting, the automaker has stated, with Dr. Serguey Skvortsov taking his place.
Ghosn remains the chairman of Alliance Rostec Auto BV, the holding company that controls AvtoVAZ. Renault-Nissan bought a majority stake in the company, which is a joint venture with Russian Technologies, in 2012.
If you’re planning a road trip this weekend, take a few pointers from this Russian dashcam video on how not to merge.
Everyone knows Russians are unable sustain injury on the roadways (or so it would seem), but this fact wasn’t known until videos started rolling in from the insurance fraud-prone country. Their problems are our gain, however, as these misadventures from the land of Putin and honey hold valuable road safety lessons.
After partnering with the Russian company Sollers for the past five years and investing more than $1 billion into car and engine factories, Ford Motor Company is betting on a Russian rebound and still sees the beleaguered country as a long-term play.
Amid GM’s retreat from Russia, Ford stuck to its game plan by spending cash on new models and plants in that country, presumably to avoid a catch-up situation similar to the one it faced in China. According to Automotive News, the commitment paid off in the first quarter of 2016, sending sales up by 93 percent in a market that saw a 17 percent decline over the same period.
It’s a limousine with the swagger of a KGB gunfighter.
Steely eyed Russian president Vladimir Putin can look forward to taking ownership of a new ride next year, Sputnik News reported (via Autoblog). And guess what? It’s a vehicle anyone in the Motherland (with money) can buy!
The limousine is a product of the state-funded Kortezh (Cortege) project, a 12.4 billion ruble ($181.9 million) venture implemented by the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Institute in Moscow.
As the price of oil and gas sinks to below $50/barrell, so does Russia’s economy. The former Soviet state, highly dependant on oil and gas revenues for growth, is expected to experience economic shrinkage between 3.4 and 6 percent this year. That isn’t good if you’re doing business in rubles and some automakers are beating a hasty retreat.
Like Ford and Hyundai-Kia, Mazda is sticking it out in Russia with their manufacturing partner Sollers (which is also the manufacturing partner of Ford since 2011). The two have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin assessing a new engine plant in the country.
General Motors dealers in Russia are unhappy at the compensation the automaker is offering as it pulls out of the country, Wards Auto is reporting.
Russian dealers want more than it cost to start their dealerships, the report details. Negotiations stalled on how much GM would discount service contracts for thousands of GM cars currently on the road, and how much GM would offer dealers who need to change their businesses after GM leaves the country. The latest round of negotiations stalled in July.
GM sold more than 247,000 Chevrolet, Daewoo, Opel and Cadillac cars in Russia in 2014, which was down more than 24 percent from the prior year. This week, Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen said the luxury automaker would focus on sales in Russia — and also China and the Middle East — even after GM announced it would be leaving that country.
Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting.
Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent for Toyota and VW respectively.
GM was the third-largest automaker with 4.86 million vehicles.
Recent sales growth in the EU hasn’t been kind to Opel as the group is forced to reduce hours at two German plants.
According to Automotive News, Opel will cut production of the Adam and Corsa at Eisenach and Insignia and Zafira Tourer at Ruesselsheim. The move is due to Opel’s exit from the Russian market and what the automaker calls “moderate” gains in the rest of Europe.
However, within the EU, overall sales for all automakers are up 8.2 percent in the first six month of this year and 14.6 percent in June, according to ACEA.
Wealthy Russians are clamoring for Teslas that aren’t even available in their country, Bloomberg News is reporting.
Buyers are paying up to double for the electric vehicles, the story reports, which include freight and import fees of more than $60,000 for the cars.
“It doesn’t pollute nature and it’s super cheap and easy to use,” Herman Gref told Bloomberg News in an e-mail.
Super cheap is relative term — even in Russian we hope.
Everyone knows it by its export name, Lada, but its real name was VAZ and that is how it was commonly known in Soviet Union. Like all other Soviet automakers, VAZ is an acronym and it stands for Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or Volga Automobile Plant. This is not to be confused with Volga cars which were made by GAZ, Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod or Gorky Automobile Plant, some 600 kilometers southeast.
The recent round of trade embargos might have hurt Russia’s new vehicle market, but there’s no question that they’ve gotten the better deal when it comes to a small Chevrolet crossover.
The Russian government said that it will spend up to 271 billion rubles ($8US billion) over the next three years to subsidize the country’s struggling auto industry. A government web site said that the subsidies will underwrite research & development, jobs and costs related to more stringent emissions standards. Car sales in Russia in 2013 fell by 6% to 2.78 million units and 2014 looks like another weak year as the Russian economy stutters, according to the Association of European Businesses.
Nissan last sold a car branded as a Datsun in 1981, but it’s bring the brand back for emerging markets like Indonesia, India, Russia and South Africa. The low cost brand will be launching in April in Russia with a starting price below RUB400,000 ($12,100) and go on sale there in late summer or early fall. Nissan is hoping that the new/old brand will attract consumers that had been considering used cars.
“The main objective (in Russia) is to be a serious alternative to the used car market – this is where we want to compete,” Jerome Saigot, director of Datsun’s operations in Russia, told Reuters.
In the spirit of our many posts ( here, here and here) about the Hongqi Red Flag limousines used by the Communist Party elites in China, and our own Murilee Martin’s interest in limos from the former Soviet Bloc ( here), we bring you the winner of a design sponsored by Russia’s Maruissia Motors and the CarDesign.ru website.
Less than a year after joining the WTO, Russia finds itself dragged in front of the same. The EU launched a formal trade dispute with Russia, claiming that its Eastern neighbor is “illegally protecting its carmakers with a recycling fee levied on imported cars,” as Reuters reports.
Car sales in Russia disappointed a month ago, and they disappoint again: Russian sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles dropped 11 percent in June, says Reuters. For the first half of the year, sales are off 6 percent while Russia caught a whiff of the European contagion. Now, all hopes are on the government and cheap credit.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Last January, we reported that Mazda wants to go to Siberia, and this seems where they are headed. Mazda said in a statement today that it has agreed to a joint venture with Russian carmaker Sollers. It will produce Mazda cars in Vladivostok for the promising Russian market.
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.
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.
Good morning! Two years after GM reneged on the Opel sale to Magna and Sperbank, the Times of London has the big scoop. GM cancelled the sale of Opel because the buyers wanted the right to sell its factories to a Russian state-owned car maker, says the Times, citing U.S. diplomatic cables revealed in Wikileaks. Really? You don’t say! We are shocked!
Yesterday, The Nikkei was all worked up about a takeover of Russia’s largest automaker AvtoVaz by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The Nikkei became so excited that it forgot simple logic. More on that here. The Nikkei had it on not so good authority that Nissan would soon buy 25 percent of the Russians, and together with Renault’s 25 percent and change, Japan and France would finally achieve what had been tried before: Rule Russia. We had our doubts.
Do you hear the big hissing sound? That’s the lukewarm air coming out of the story.
Rumors of Renault and Nissan taking over Russia’s AvtoVaz have been around for a while. We have a new one! The Nikkei [sub] picked up indications that Nissan and Renault will take a majority in AvtoVaz, Russia’s largest automaker. Except that The Nikkei doesn’t report it as a rumor. The headline “Nissan-Renault To Take Control Of Russia’s AvtoVaz” sounds quite definite. Sadly, it is not true.
As you know, the Russian government offered foreign automakers a deal: Invest heavily into the Russian auto industry, and Mother Russia will let you import parts and components at negligible or zero duty rates. Present your plans no later than July 1. Here is Volkswagen’s answer:
The Russian government offered foreign automakers a deal which would be very costly to refuse: Invest heavily into the Russian auto industry, and Mother Russia will let you import parts and components at negligible or zero duty rates. Present your plans no later than July 1. Miss the deadline, and you may as well kiss the Russian auto market good-bye. Ti ponemaesh?
Saabsunited, once a gathering place for brand necrophiliacs and people with an-ignition-key-near-the-gearstick fetish, has morphed into a Vladmir Antonov fanzine. The banner on top of the site used to show the roof of the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Now it shows the roof of the Saab plant in Trollhättan with an “Approve Antonov” flag photoshopped-in.
There is a big blue square at the left of the homepage of Saabsunited that says “Support Vladimir Antonov” (according to Wikipedia, he is $ 300 million worth, how much more support does he need?) Clicking on the square leads you to a letter writing campaign that urges you in 9 languages to voice your displeasure with the Swedish government. You also are to DEMAND from the Swedish Prime Minister that he approves Antonov as a Saab shareholder. I’m sure a wave of Saab-spam will change the Prime Minister’s mind.
It is a mere coincidence that Saabsunited acronyms itself to ”SU,” an abbreviation previously reserved for the Soviet Union.
Recently, the tone on “SU” became shrill.
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