Categories: News

Russia: civil servants forced to drive in national brand

In a context of defiance towards the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he wants to roll civil servants in models of national production. But the choice is quite thin…

From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the face of the Russian economy has changed profoundly. In the automotive sector, most car manufacturers have slammed the door of the largest country in the world. A consequence of the international sanctions imposed on the government of President Vladimir Putin. Volkswagen, Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, all have been forced to abandon their factories and assets in the country. Sometimes for a symbolic rouble, sometimes with (barely) limited damage. For Renault, the slap was all the more severe, as Russia was its second market in terms of sales, after Europe. Above all, the French group owned the first national manufacturer, AvtoVAZ-Lada. Apart from some gray imports, the market is now dominated by Chinese manufacturersand Russians of course…

Automotive patriotism

A year and a half after the start of the conflict, the sector is still taking a new turn. The president of the federation, Vladimir Putin, has indicated that he wants to nationalize the official fleets government and public administration. In concrete terms, gradually replacing the fleet of civil servant vehicles with Russian-made models. According to the government agency Ria Novosti (words translated by Courrier International), the head of the Kremlin explained that “Several ministries and state agencies have formulated the request to continue the purchase of foreign cars for their employees. I said that this should be absolutely ruled out and that all civil servants in the country should drive national cars “. And to add “There is nothing dramatic in this measure. It will certainly be more modest, but much better”. A patriotic measure which is part of a context of mistrust vis-à-vis the Westthe workhorse of Vladimir Putin.

GAZ, UAZ, Lada, Aurus or Moskvitch?

So what models could Russian officials fall back on? GAZ only makes utilities, and UAZ 4X4s. The only major national manufacturer, Lada, presents an aging range which is based on old Renault technologies. There would be good Aurus, the “Zil of the 21st century”, but equipping all official fleets with models from the young brand would cost a fortune. The rare novelties of Russian manufacturers in recent months are Chinese models produced under license and rebadged. The Lada X-Cross 5 is a Betsune T77 assembled as a kit, the Moskvitch 3 is a JAC JS4. For the patriotic side, it seems compromised.

The only hopes for carrying out this project would rest on the future Lada Aura, according to the newspaper (always reported by Courrier International). This “new” model is in fact a Lada Vesta lengthened by 25 cm, finished in leather and equipped with a new audio system. The Vesta already dates from 2015 and is based on the Renault group’s low-cost CMF-B LS platform, used in particular by the Dacia Sandero. It now remains to convince Russian officials to trade in their Mercedes-Benzes and Lexus for the modest little sedan.

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