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Lada is the most popular Russian automotive brand, known well beyond its home country. Lada vehicles are produced by AvtoVAZ, owned by Alliance Rostec Auto BV (a joint venture of Renault-Nissan Alliance and Russian state-owned Rostekhnologia Corporation). Currently, the family counts a large variety of sedan, hatch-back, 4x4 off-road, compact, subcompact, and universal models. It should be noted that global community recognizes cars under this brand as an ultralow-cost solution, due to the cheapness of used parts and technologies.
For nearly a semicentenary history of existence (1966) Lada vehicles have fleshed out with hundreds of interesting facts. Here are only the most curious ones:
- initially, ‘Lada’ was a name used only for exported brands. All domestic units were called Zhiguli;
- the company’s logo depicts a small sailing ship, known as ‘ladya’ in Russian;
- AvtoVAZ was the first manufacturer in Soviet Union to carry on barter arrangements. For instance, Coca-Cola imported its drinks to the Soviet Union in exchange for Lada cars, which were then shipped to the UK;
- the USA is the only large market that has never imported cars under this brand. The ban on imports was due to an embargo against the USSR, triggered by the Cold War;
- competitive price made Ladas popular in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. They were used there basically as police, civil defense, taxis or public service vehicles;
- Russian most popular automotive brand boasts a strong presence as in CIS markets (former Soviet Union countries), so in Western market. Its most exported makes are Kalina, Priora, Niva, and Granta;
- Lada was the first car brand in the world to enter Brazilian market. It was not until 1990 that Brazilian authorities allowed automobile imports. Niva, 2105 and 2104 models enjoyed a huge popularity among taxi drivers who appreciated functionality and inexpensiveness of maintenance;
- in 2004 AvtoVAZ decided to switch all official model names to the Roman letters;
- Russian customers get used to nickname some of the outstanding models, i.e. 2101 was nicknamed ‘kopeyka’ (Eng: a kopek);
- all factory employees with a 20-years’ experience are awarded with the title ‘Veteran of Volzhskiy Automotive Plant’;
- AvtoVAZ Ladas are considered to be a hit among carjacks in Moscow;
- on April 1, 2015, the company introduced a new logo. Vesta will be the first model to be released with an updated emblem.
Under Renault-Nissan Control
In 2008 Renault-Nissan Alliance, the present-day 4th largest car producer by sales revenue, acquired a 25% share in Russian AvtoVAZ in a deal worth of $1 billion. The move resulted in the development of new Lada models on the basis of existing assembly lines. The controlling stake was in the hands of the Russian state-owned Rostec.
Still, in 2012 the latter entered in a joint venture with the Alliance. The takeover, completed in 2014, allowed the Alliance to purchase 67.1% share in Rostec, which owned 74.5% share in AvtoVAZ. Thereby, Renault-Nissan appeared to have an indirect control over the manufacturing process.
Historic and Current Models
Throughout its history, AvtoVAZ has produced a number of best-sellers as in local, so in international markets. Its most successful former models were: VAZ-2101, VAZ-2103 (both sold as Lada 1200 & Lada 1500 in Western markets), Riva based on Fiat 124, Samara/Samara 2, and Kalina super-mini.
The current lineup is distinguished by versatility. It comprises vehicles for all occasions: Niva 4x4 off-road vehicle (3-door/5-door versions), Kalina 2 subcompact (wagon and hatchback versions), Priora compact car (sedan, wagon, hatchback, coupe versions), Largus family vehicle based on Dacia Logan MCV, Granta subcompact.
In addition, AvtoVAZ is currently developing another two vehicles with future innovations in mind – XRAY (concept SUV designed by Steve Mattin) and Vesta (compact sedan).
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