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AvtoVAZ[1] (Russian: АвтоВАЗ) is the Russian automobile manufacturer formerly known as VAZ: Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod (ВАЗ, Во́лжский автомоби́льный заво́д), but better known to the world under the trade name Lada. The company was established in the late 1960s in collaboration with Fiat. The current company name is "AvtoVAZ", which stands for "Avtomobili Volzhskogo Avtomobilnogo Zavoda" ("Cars of Volga Automobile Plant").[2] AvtoVAZ is also the largest company in the Eastern European and Russian automotive industry.[3]

It produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Kalina family (hatchback, wagon and crossover), Lada Granta family (sedan and liftback), Lada Priora family (sedan, hatchback, wagon and coupe), Lada 4x4 (former Lada "Niva") and Lada Largus (Renault-Nissan platform). It also produces the vehicles of Renault-Nissan alliance brands: Renault Logan 2, Datsun on-Do (the Nissan sub-brand) and Nissan Almera New. However, the original Fiat 124-based VAZ-2101, and its derivatives, remain the models most associated with its Lada brand.

The VAZ factory is one of the biggest in the world, with over 90 miles (140 km) of production lines, and is unique in that most of the components for the cars are made in-house.

The original Lada was intended as a "people's car" for consumers of the Eastern Bloc - lacking in most luxuries expected in Western-made cars of its era. Ladas were sold as a budget 'no-frills' vehicle in several Western nations during the 1970s and 1980s, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, though trade sanctions banned their export to the United States. Sales to Italy were forbidden by the agreement between the Soviet government and Fiat, to protect Fiat from cheap imports in its home market.


  • Origins 1
  • Market share 2
  • Recent developments 3
  • Models 4
    • Classic Zhiguli 4.1
    • Original 4.2
    • Oka 4.3
    • Chevrolet Niva 4.4
    • Nissan Almera 4.5
  • Models gallery 5
    • Currently produced cars developed by AvtoVAZ 5.1
    • Currently produced cars developed by other companies 5.2
    • Older models 5.3
    • Older Fiat-based models 5.4
    • Experimental or Future models 5.5
  • Motorsport 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Technical and design center
The Volga automaking plant in 1969

With the aim of producing more cars, a brand-new integrated plant was decided upon in 1966, with Viktor Polyakov (later minister of Minavtoprom) as director, and Vladimir Solovyev was chief designer.[4] It was set up as a collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union and built on the banks of the Volga River in 1966. A new town, Tolyatti, named after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, was built around the factory. The Lada was envisaged as a "people's car" like the Citroën 2CV or the VW Type 1. Production was intended to be 220,000 cars a year, beginning in 1971; car production actually began before the plant was finished in 1970.[5] The VAZ trademark, at first, was a grey Volga boat on a red pentagonal background, with "Togliatti" superposed in Cyrillic (Тольятти); the first badges, manufactured in Turin, mistakenly had the Cyrillic "Я" rendered "R", instead (ТольRтти), making them collector's items.[6]

The lightweight Italian Fiat 124 was adapted in order to survive treacherous Russian driving conditions. Among many changes, aluminium brake drums were added to the rear, and the original Fiat engine was dropped in favour of a newer design also purchased from Fiat. This new engine had a modern overhead camshaft design, but was never used in Fiat cars. The suspension was raised to clear rough Russian roads and the bodyshell was made from thicker, heavier steel. The first Lada models were equipped with a starting handle in case the battery went flat in Siberian conditions, though this was later dropped. Another feature specifically intended to help out in cold conditions was a manual auxiliary fuel pump. About 22,000 VAZ-2101s were built in 1970, with capacity at the end of 1973 reaching 660,000 a year; 21 December, the one millionth 2101 was built.[5] A third production line was added in October 1974, boosting output to 2,230 cars a day.[5] The same year, total VAZ production reached 1.5 million.[5]

Exports to the West began in 1974; under the original agreement with Fiat, the car could not be sold in competition with the 124 until its replacement (the Fiat 131 Mirafiori) had been released and all Fiat production of the 124 had ceased.

Engines fitted to the original Ladas start with the 1.2 L carubretted in the original and go up to the 1.7 L export model set up with a General Motors single point fuel injection system. Diesel engines were later fitted for the domestic market only. The drivetrain is a simple rear-wheel drive setup with a live rear axle. The engine is an inline four with two valves per cylinder and a single overhead camshaft.

The Fiat-based Ladas feature various headlight, trim and body styles. The original, Fiat style models included VAZ-2101 sedan and VAZ-2102 station wagon. 1972 saw the introduction of a deluxe version of the sedan, VAZ-2103, which was based on Fiat 124 Special 1968 and featured a new 1.5 L engine and twin headlights. In 1974, the original VAZ-2101 was updated with new engines and interiors; VAZ-2102 underwent the same improvements in 1976. The body style with two round headlights was manufactured until 1988; all others remain in production in slightly updated form.

The VAZ-2106 introduced in December 1975 was an updated version of VAZ-2103, really which was based on 1972 Fiat 124 Special T, featuring different interiors and new 1.6 L engine. The 2106 is the oldest and the most popular rear-wheel drive AvtoVAZ model; its production ended in 2001 from Tolyatti, but continued at Izhavto (Izhevsk), ending there in December 2005.

In 1974, VAZ was given permission to begin producing Wankel engines under licence from NSU.[7] Work began in 1976, with a single-rotor Lada appearing in 1978; the first 250 of these went on sale in summer 1980.[7]

The VAZ-2105, still based on the 2101 but updated to 1980s styling, was introduced in 1980 and was marketed outside the Soviet Union under the Riva or Laika names, depending on country. Square headlights and new body panels distinguish this style from the old models. A deluxe version, VAZ-2107, was out in 1982; it featured a better engine, refined interiors and a Mercedes-like radiator grille. In 1984, the VAZ-2104 station wagon completed the line-up. In 2002 station wagon 2104 production was transferred to IzhAvto. Production of the 2105 was completed on 30 December 2010, and production of deluxe sedan 2107 was transferred to IzhAvto on March 2011.

In the domestic market, these "classic" models were called Zhiguli (Жигули). The Lada name was used for exports only, but a large share of Ladas was reexported from Eastern Bloc countries, so the brand was well known in the domestic market as well.

AvtoVAZ designers proved they had some original ideas when the VAZ-2121 Niva was introduced in 1978. This highly popular car was made with off-road use in mind, featuring a gearbox with a four-wheel-drive selector lever as well as a low- and high- range selector lever. It has an original body style and the most powerful 1.7 L engine in the VAZ range. The Niva has also been available with 1.9 L Peugeot sourced diesel engine. The Niva is still in production.

Based on the success of the Niva, the design department prepared a new family of front-wheel drive models by 1984, which was of a completely domestic design. Production started with the VAZ-21083 Sputnik three-door hatchback; the series was later renamed Samara. The Samara engine was mostly designed and produced in-house, had a new single overhead camshaft (SOHC) design and was driven by a more modern rubber belt. The combustion chambers were developed in collaboration with Porsche. The line-up features a completely new body and interiors, front MacPherson strut independent suspension and rear torsion bar, rack and pinion steering, and an updated five-speed gearbox. The five-door VAZ-21093 hatchback followed in 1987, and the four-door 1.5 L sedan, VAZ-21099, was introduced in 1990. The same year, the front sides and radiator grille were restyled on the whole Samara range.

A white 2108 would be VAZ's nine millionth Lada built, on 24 May 1985, with the ten millionth, on 9 October 1986, also a 2108.[8] The twelve millionth, a right-hand drive 2109, was produced 6 July 1989.[9]

The 2108-2109 models were in production until 2001, when they were restyled with new side panels, interiors and 1.5 L fuel injection engines (though fuel injection was available as early as 1995). The Lada 2109 hatchback was rebadged as Lada 2114, and Lada 21099 sedan was rebadged as the Lada 2115. The 2104-21099 model range was transferred to IzhMash and ZAZ and is still being manufactured. In 2004 VAZ also introduced Lada 2113, a restyled version of Lada 2108, but this car has never used much popularity, as the Lada 2108 was only popular for a short time.

The VAZ-1111 Oka micro-car, which resembles the Fiat Panda (though relation to it), was introduced in 1988, and in 1991 the production was transferred to the KamAZ and SeAZ factories.

The VAZ-2120 Nadezhda minivan is based on the original Niva and has been in low-volume production since 1998. A five-door version of the Niva, the VAZ-2131, has been in production since 1995.

The break-up of the USSR delayed the production of new 110-series by a couple of years. The VAZ-2110 sedan was introduced in 1996, the 2111 station wagon followed in 1998 and the 2112 hatchback completed the range in 2001. These models are basically based on Samara mechanicals, with a new body and fuel injected engines as standard features, though carbureted versions have also been available up until 2001. The 110-series remains in production and has been continually updated over the years. For example, engines used to be 1.5 L units with either 8 or 16 valves, but these have now been upgraded to 1.6 L units that meet stricter emissions rules.

VAZ in 2008 was the largest automotive plant in Europe, able to build 750,000 cars a year.[10] The plant covers 600 ha (65,000,000 sq ft), with three assembly lines each 1,700 m (5,600 ft) long; at peak production, it employed 180,000.[10] And, unlike most Western factories, it is vertically integrated, producing almost every component in the plant itself.[10]

In 2013, AVTOVAZ sold 481 thousand cars LADA, sales declined by 19% compared to the year 2012.

Revenues declined by 13 billion roubles up to 177 billion roubles. The loss amounted to 7.9 billion rubles. The deterioration of the results of financial and economic activity of the AVTOVAZ group mainly connected with reduction of sales at the Russian car market.[11]

In the first half of 2014, the proceeds from sales of AVTOVAZ amounted to 91.1 billion rubles, net loss - 2,75 billion. For the six months sales of the company amounted to 220 251 LADA, which is 5% less than in the first half of last year The main factors that influenced these results, the steel market collapse and the fall in the ruble.[12]

Market share

Tightening emissions and safety legislation meant that AvtoVAZ withdrew from most Western markets by the late 1997; often, there were also problems with spare parts. Since then AvtoVAZ has been concentrated on home market. Today Lada has 15,7% of the Russian market, in the segment up to 600 thousand rubles, they occupy 37%. In the USA they were never sold due to the cold war, but they were available in Canada (where the Niva was quite popular). The rise in popularity of Far Eastern imports from newly established manufacturers such as Daewoo, Proton, Kia and Hyundai contributed to Lada's demise in the West. These Korean and Malaysian-manufactured vehicles offered modern, Japanese developed technology and standard equipment such as automatic transmissions which Lada could not compete with, and by the turn of the millennium, had completely taken over the market niche that Lada had survived in for over 20 years.

Though the original Lada, and as of the early part of the new millennium, the Samara, have now been withdrawn, the Lada 110 and the Niva are still sold in certain Western European markets, as are the more modern models (Lada Kalina, Lada Granta, Lada 4x4). The Lada is widely available in many Central and South American countries as well as in Africa, the Middle East and in all of the former Soviet Union and Communist Bloc nations.

Recent developments

As AvtoVAZ was allowed to sell cars to private dealers in the late 1980s, Boris Berezovsky arranged to resell the cars to the public through his LogoVAZ dealerships. In 1993 he started a campaign to collect funds for the "people's automobile" and created the AVVA venture, which stands for All-Russian Automobile Alliance; the AvtoVAZ held a major share in the venture. The plans were to build a completely new plant for production of the VAZ-1116 supermini. However, the financial crisis of 1998 put these plans to an end. The development concepts of 1116 instead became the foundation of the Lada Kalina range.

GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint-venture with General Motors, adopted an updated version of the Niva, VAZ-2123, that was considered for production since the 1990s. Named Chevrolet Niva, it is being built on the venture's plant since 2001 and is exported to Europe and Latin America. In 2004, the Chevrolet Viva, a four-door version of the Opel Astra G, was introduced.

VAZ has also tried to get into the sportier markets: several Ladas were factory-tuned and given a Momo steering wheel. A convertible was also produced. In 2003, VAZ presented the concept car Lada Revolution, an open single seater sports car powered by a 1.6 L engine producing 215 hp (160 kW). There are other experimental cars, such as the VAZ-210834 Tarzan SUV concept, VAZ-1922 monster truck and VAZ-2359 pick-up, all based on Niva. The VAZ-211223 110-series coupe, with the sister models 111 and 112 have been developed with a modern and luxurious look and feel, have been mass-produced, and are popular in Russia today.

Some models (mostly the police version) have a Wankel engine (like the Mazda RX-7), though development (and production) of this engine stopped in 2004.[13] The main causes are special requirements for service and repair (mostly available only in Moscow & Togliatti) and very high fuel & lubricating oil consumption.

2005 saw the introduction of the new Kalina B-segment lineup to the market. AvtoVAZ has built a new modern plant for this model and is hoping to sell some 200,000 cars annually. Test production of the Lada 1118 sedan started in November 2004 and full-scale assembly was launched in May 2005. The Lada 1119 hatchback and Lada 1117 station wagon with updated DOHC 1.6L engines followed in 2006.The second generation of the car was revealed at the 2012 Moscow International Motor Show. It is basically a facelifted first generation, albeit with a slightly extended wheelbase and length and now produced only in hatchback and wagon form. In the fall of 2014 AVTOVAZ begins production of a new modification - Lada Kalina Cross.[14] Lada Kalina also produced as the “charged” version named Lada Kalina Sport.[15]

Lada Largus was launched in the Russian market in the middle of July 2012. In 2014 vehicle gets new modification - Lada Largus Cross.[16]

The restyled 110-series model, Lada 2170 Priora, is produced since March 2007. Vehicle got several serious improvements since production start. For example, - robotized transmission.[17]

Lada Granta - a car developed in collaboration with Renault. Mass sales started on December 2011.Granta has replaced "classic" models.Now produced as sedan, liftback, has Sport modification.Equipped with different transmissions.[18] The Lada Granta has been the best selling model in Russia for more than 20 months.[19]

In 2015 AvtoVAZ plans to produce about 5000 Lada Vesta, new sedan developed by factory engineers.[20] Launch of mass production - 25 September 2015.[21]

Project C, which has come to be known as the Lada 2116 or Lada Silhouette, is a family car jointly developed with input from both Porsche and Renault, is intended to finally replace the Classic models. Spy shots of the car appeared in 2007, suggesting a 2008 launch. AvtoVAZ began to move production of the Classic models (which were still selling strongly in Russia) out of Togliatti at the end of 2010 - fuelling further speculation that this was to free up production capacity for the 2116. In the end, the 2116 never reached production.

AvtoVAZ was considering the local production of Ecotec Family 1 (FAM-1) engines using the equipment transferred from Szentgotthard, Hungary plant. A transmissions plant was to be bought from Daewoo Moto India, a former Daewoo Motors subsidiary that was not sold to GM. The engines and transmissions were to be used in both GM-AvtoVAZ and Lada cars. As of Summer 2005, these plans were cancelled and VAZ is seeking another way to acquire some modern powerplant technology.

After some shakeups in the management caused by a recent acquisition from Rosoboronexport, AvtoVAZ is currently in talks with Renault to negotiate a CKD assembly of the Renault Logan. They have also contracted Magna International to design a new car platform and equip a new plant for its production.[22]

AvtoVAZ suffered considerably in the 2008-2009 world economic crisis. In October 2008, the company was reported to possess over 100,000 unsold units, and desperately needed money to repay short-term debts. On March 31, the value of AvtoVAZ shares jumped by almost 30%, due to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's proclaimed determination to support the auto giant. Putin visited Togliatti, expressed his approval of the management for not initiating massive layoffs, and promised more than $1 billion in loans, cash, and guarantees.[23] In May, 2009, Putin bought an AvtoVAZ Niva SUV to show his support for the hard-pressed domestic producer.[24]

On March 10, 2010 the Board of Directors of "AvtoVAZ" approved a business plan for the period until 2020, by which expected to increase vehicle production to 1.2 million units per year by the end of the 2010s, as well as investments up to 3 billion euros.[3]

On 3 May 2012, the Renault-Nissan alliance has signed letter of intent to raise its stake in Avtovaz to a majority by taking a majority share of 67.13% of a joint venture with the Russian state-controlled company, Russian Technologies, to own 74.5% of Avtovaz. This would raise the share of the Renault-Nissan Alliance in AvtoVAZ to 51.01%.[25] Renault and Nissan will invest $750,000,000 in the joint venture.

In 2012, it was announced that Avtovaz and Sollers plan to jointly produce vehicles in Kazakhstan.[26] The plant, which will be open in 2016, will be built in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the eastern part of the country, and will produce around 120,000 cars a year.[27]

In 2013, Bo Andersson joined JSC AvtoVAZ as the President.[28]


Each model has an internal index that reflects the level of modifications, based on the engine and other options installed. For example, the VAZ-21103 variant has the 1.5 L 16V engine, while the VAZ-21104 uses the latest 1.6 L 16V fuel injection engine. Since 2001, trim levels are also indicated by including a number after the main index: '-00' means base trim level, '-01' means standard trim and '-02' designates deluxe version; for example, VAZ-21121-02 means Lada 112 hatchback with an 1.6L SOHC engine and deluxe trim.

The car's name is formed from 'VAZ-index model name. The classic Fiat 124-derived models were known on the domestic market as Zhiguli (Жигули) until the late-1990s, when the name was dropped; thus, the 2104-2107 range, as well as 110-series, actually lack a model name. The restyled Sputnik range was renamed Samara, but the Niva and the Oka retained their names. By the 2000s (decade), the VAZ designation was dropped from market names in favour of Lada and simplified export naming conventions were adopted, so VAZ-2104 effectively became Lada 2104, VAZ-2110 became Lada 110, VAZ-2114 became Lada Samara hatchback or Lada 114 and so on, though model indices continue to be used in both technical and marketing materials.

The model names varied from market to market and as such should not be used except to indicate a certain export market. Instead, it is advisable to refer solely to the model number as these are the same for all markets.

Classic Zhiguli



The Oka is a Russian city car designed by AvtoVAZ and sometimes branded as a Lada. This model was built in Russia by SeverstalAvto and SeAZ (the Serpuhov Car Factory), as well as in Azerbaijan by the Gyandzha Auto Plant. Series production of the OKA was stopped in Russia in 2008 when SeAZ released the last batch of OKA's with Chinese EURO-2 engines.

Chevrolet Niva

Chevrolet Niva

The Chevrolet Niva is a GM modification produced at GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint venture between AvtoVAZ and General Motors, at its factory in Tolyatti from 2002. Although the body and the interiors are new, it is still based on the original VAZ 2121 engine, transmission and most mechanicals of the Lada Niva.

Nissan Almera

Nissan Almera

In December 2012, the second generation of the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy began full-scale manufacturing at the AvtoVAZ plant as the new Nissan Almera.[29]

It received its world premiere at the 2012 Moscow International Motor Show on 29 August 2012, and uses the same design as the Bluebird Sylphy, but a redesigned dashboard interior, adapted from the first generation Dacia Logan. It has a 1.6-litre petrol engine (75 kW), with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

Models gallery

Currently produced cars developed by AvtoVAZ

Currently produced cars developed by other companies

Older models

Older Fiat-based models

All are originally based on the Fiat 124

Experimental or Future models


  • In 1970 AVTOVAZ CEO Viktor Polyakov set the task:to create sport versions of Lada 2101.The engines were built in Italy. Fine tuning was done by engineers in Togliatti.
  • In 1971 three sport cars based on 2101 model took part in USSR Winter Rally Championship.[30] Later on the same year VAZ-Autoexport team, take first prize – Silver Cup in Tour Europe rally 71.[31]
  • During 1970 -1980 Autoexport team using different Lada models, took part in different motorsport competitions. A special Zhiguli class created in the USSR Rally Championship. Also, there were a lot of different rally & track races with Avtovaz vehicles taking part.
  • In 1978 Lada Niva raced in the famous «Paris Dakar» rally. Later, French drivers, driving the Niva were successful in a number of international competitions.[32]
  • In 2008 AvtoVAZ took part in WTCC World Championship with the Lada 110.
  • From 2009 to 2011 the factory team took part in a number of WTCC races. The main racing car: Lada Priora WTCC.
  • In 2010 the LADA logo appeared on the team Renault Formula 1 cars.[33]
  • In 2012 the Lada Granta Cup was launched. The first stage of the new race series began in Moscow on the Myachkovo track.[34]
  • In 2013 AvtoVAZ returned to the WTCC championship. The team received a new car: the Lada Granta WTCC with new driver, WTCC World Champion, Rob Huff.[35]
  • Since the beginning of 2015, team Lada takes part in the WTCC as Lada Sport Rosneft.[36] The race cars are: Lada Vesta WTCC versions.Also, the factory team begins to take part in rally as: Lada Sport Rosneft Rally. Team car – Lada Kalina.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Report for the II quarter of 2009 //
  3. ^ a b «АвтоВАЗ» во II квартале получил 1 млрд руб чистой прибыли // RIA Novosti, 13 July 2010
  4. ^ Thompson, Andy. Cars of the Soviet Union (Haynes Publishing, Somerset, UK, 2008), p.104.
  5. ^ a b c d Thompson, p.106.
  6. ^ Thompson, pp.107 & 109.
  7. ^ a b Thompson, p.209.
  8. ^ Thompson, p.253.
  9. ^ Thompson, p.255.
  10. ^ a b c Thompson, p.107.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Thompson, p.237.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ , Russia Today TV, May 16, 2009Putin buys Russian in boost to carmaker.Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^

External links

  • Lada official site (in Russian)
  • Lada at DMOZ
  • Official history of Lada line-up (in Russian)
  • INFOGRAPHICS Avtovaz Russian Ecosystem (May 2013)

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