Russian Car Maker Weighs Assembling Some Models in Cuba

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By Progreso Weekly

The Russian vehicle manufacturer GAZ “is considering” assembling some of its products in Cuba or Venezuela for distribution in Latin America, a spokesman for the company said this past weekend.

gaz logoHowever, the use of Venezuela for the purpose is “less likely in the short run,” the unidentified spokesman told the Russian daily Izvestia. He did not say what vehicles the company might build in Cuba or when the project would take form.

Established in 1932 in Nizhny Novgorod, GAZ (Gorky Automobile Factory) is the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles in Russia, with a 58 percent market share in medium-duty trucks and a 50 percent market share in light trucks.

The group also produces buses, vans and automobiles. Under agreements with General Motors and Volkswagen, it currently assembles Aveo and Jetta automobiles.

GAZ’s turn to Latin America is, by the company’s own admission, a result of declining sales in the domestic market. In the first half of this year, its sales of light commercial vehicles fell by 26 percent to 23,400 units. By comparison, the company expects to sell 25,000 units abroad by year’s end, mostly to neighboring republics that were part of the former Soviet Union.

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This would not the first time that GAZ has cooperated with Cuba in the manufacture of vehicles. Between 1979 and 1980, Cuba built 15,000 buses mounted on the chassis Model PAZ-672, provided by PAZ (Russian acronym for Pavlov Automobile Factory), a subsidiary of the GAZ Group. Those buses were called “Girón.”

In late 2013, GAZ delivered to Cuba 210 chassis of the PAZ-32053 suburban bus called “Diana,” a 40-passenger carrier.

GAZ is also considering establishing an assembly line in Lithuania for distribution of its products in eastern Europe, the spokesman said. In the past two years, the company has reportedly invested about $500 million in expansion.


5 thoughts on “Russian Car Maker Weighs Assembling Some Models in Cuba

  • Lada was actually a licenced product of Fiat, along many other brands who made their own versions of the car of the year 1967, Fiat 124: along many, Seat and Kia made their own versions of one of the finest cars in the 1960’s.

    No country in the world has ever been really communistic, or capitalistic. A real communist country would have no ruler and even the poorest people would be given minimum standards for living. A real capitalistic country would completely cut off welfare and everyone should success on their own, plus the state would own nothing, all the busineses would be individual.

    Although the Soviet Union never was a real communist state, the production followed pretty much the economical ideas of communism: the price of the product would almost fully consists of the material and labour expenses with minimum profit. It’s no wonder why Ladas never became popular in the richest countries. They would be have been needed to be sold extremely well, so that a capitalist could gain maximum profit out of them, and many people abandoned their Ladas only because insurances covered less than a new car’s price, if someone managed to crash a Lada, even a little bit.

    In rich countries, car’s price will consist of material and labour expenses, but also of maximum profit (depending on the rank of the brand) and of the patent expenses, if the produced car contained the newest innovations, like they always do.

    These two things explain why Ladas used to be so cheap. One other thing: Samaras were produced for a short time in my country, and even if they didn’t contain the newest innovations, the costs rose so high that in the Eastern countries, people could not buy Finnish Samaras. So that was the end of the story.

    The durability of a car is not just about the mechanical part of it. Driver’s economical background and attitude are another aspects to be considered. I’ve been watching the Finnish Lada culture for over 30 years and I have noticed that there has been two different kind of drivers along the Lada-owners: middle-class fellows who buy Ladas just to drive them as long as they’ll get more money to buy “better cars”. They usually complain about the reliability. They treat Ladas just as objects: they don’t care about inserting extra oil, washing their cars regularly, or using a block heater in the wintertime. (It’s easy to get a Lada running in the extreme conditions, but it doesn’t mean that one should abandon the block heater because of that.) In the end, they break their Lada’s and complain about their weaknesses.

    In my family, there has been a bunch of happy Lada-owners. They have treated their cars with respect and love, and followed Gordon’s Ten Commandments for owning a car. They have enjoyed decades of reliability and mailfunctions have been rare. One of the Lada of those owned by one of my family members, just hit 30 years on the run. It changed the owner about ten years ago, but has stayed in the family. Two great Ladas, one at the age of 13,5 years and one at the age of 20 were abandoned because of insurance reasons. One of my family members had owned a Lada for about 15 years, but it was sold because the owner died.

    I have never heard a story about 1 000 000 km running Lada in any rich country, but you can find stories of those long-running Ladas from, for example, Bulgaria, Cuba and Russia. One other reason for this is that Ladas have always been admired by working class or lower middle class people, who can only drive ca. 5000 – 10000 kilometers a year. With that much of economic spendings, it will take ca. 100 – 200 years to run million kilometers with a Lada. (Oldest Ladas are 47 years old now.) Because Ladas have never been favoured in commercial use at the rich countries, the fact doesn’t help Lada’s reputation either.

    My message is not that all Ladas are great. The fact is that Lada’s production line quality doesn’t match the one Toyota has developed. My point is that Lada’s reputation should be viewed from many different perpectives. The durability of Lada is not only tied to the emotional reasoning used against Ladas or manufacturing quality, but also on social, economical and political situations in the areas Ladas have been used.

  • So many of the vehicles on Cuba’s deteriorating roads belch out huge volumes of black smoke including the big Russian built trucks.
    The Russian bear has an equally black history and it’s neighbours even when not occupied by Russia have invariably found that it cannot be trusted.
    Who would voluntarily partner with Russia? With whom has it made a good partner? Oppression of other countries is the history of Russia and the Castro family regime merits it along with North Korea as a partner!

  • Like so many items found in Cuba innovation and improvements can benefit Russian manufacturers secret development of world changing designs with sustainability and enviromental advances like only Cubans could deliver would be possible.The committees can solve this equation for all interested parties.
    As always Russia would make a good partner.
    Thank you

  • It’s surprising how well those Lada’s have held up in Cuba. Cuban McGuyerism aside, those were not reliable vehicles. We had them being built in Canada for a while too, and they did not last long at all. It’s virtually impossible to find one on the road here today, and if you do find one, it’s probably a Niva 4×4.

  • Russia has a prominent background in obtaining cheap labour for its products and of using designs produced in capitalist countries. Some might say that this reflects an admiration for capitalism. The famous Lada was produced as a copy of the Fiat with Fiat selling the Russians the plant necessary for production. To its credit, the Ladas supplied to Cuba have lasted well – the youngest now having achieved 25 years on the road. Some were named Muskovich – the showroom in Vienna on Dominikanerbastei, didn’t manage to sell one car in a whole year!
    If the Russkies succeed in building a production plant in Cuba – presumably with the customary agreement with the regime to supply and pay the workers – there is some hope that tourists renting from the military owned CubaCar will get a car with some improvement compared with the Chinese Geely – which can at best be described as junk.
    There is little point in constructing a plant for production of heavy vehicles as the within country demand is almost zero. Optimists can point to the “potential” of Mariel and potential need for container carrying trucks – but to date, its been all talk and no commercial activity. 53′ long trailers are the norm in the industry – and not many of those can be seen on the autopista.

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