Russia’s largest automotive manufacturer, AvtoVAZ, announced Monday that it plans to buy General Motors out of its regional joint venture. The duo previously assembled Chevrolet-branded automobiles for the local market; however, GM lost interest after the market took a turn for the worse.
While sanctions from Western nations and falling oil prices upended Russia’s economy a few years ago, it was already headed for hard times. Wages have stagnated and average citizens no longer possess the same level of buying power they held a decade earlier. The Russian Economic Development Ministry predicts just a 1-2 percent growth rate up to 2030 and leadership doesn’t seem terribly interested in improving the situation for the citizenry, deciding instead to raise taxes on just about everything. GM was probably right to get out.
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.
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.
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.
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.