No one really knows why in the mid-60s of the last century the all-powerful member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee Dmitry Fedorovich Ustinov, the then curator of the entire defense complex of the country, broke through the decision of the party and government on the construction of an automobile plant in Izhevsk. They say, "in order to destroy in our country the monopoly of the Minavtoprom on the production of automotive equipment." But then there was nothing to destroy, cars in scanty quantities were made only at AZLK and GAZ! Another reason seems more real - internal intrigues in the Politburo. Ustinov made a proposal in opposition to another member of the Politburo - A.N. Kosygin, who "led" the auto industry, and in the second half of the 60s signed a contract with Fiat for the construction of a factory in Togliatti. Here is L.I. Brezhnev, and decided to balance the ambitions of the defenders for balance.
Like it or not, the construction of an automobile plant began in Izhevsk, which organizationally was to become a branch of the country's largest military-industrial enterprise, the world leader in the production of small artillery weapons. Since the 30s of the last century, motorcycles have been made in Izhevsk as a secondary production, but they have never been involved in cars here before.
The first “Moskvich-408” in Izhevsk was assembled, as they say now, using the screwdriver assembly method on December 12, 1966 in the building of the Progress Research Institute (the factory’s shops were still under construction). Izhevsk citizens did not have their own model then. For the first batches, all parts and components of the car were delivered from Moscow, from the MZMA, then renamed to AZLK. Production lines (press and welding, painting and assembly) were put into operation for several years, and the plant became full-fledged only in 1971. The contract for its equipping with modern equipment was received by the Renault company, who played the first violin and in the re-equipment of the capital’s AZLK. But they did not create motor production in Izhevsk; IL vehicles were originally equipped with products of a branch of another defense plant - UMPO, where deliveries to Izhevsk were also long perceived as a burdensome load. After all, the main consumer was AZLK.
In a word, the plant was built, and it annually increased the production of cars. But for the defense industry, he turned out to be an unwanted child, especially since the elderly Marshal Ustinov quickly lost interest in him. It is not surprising that the designers of the Izhevsk Automobile Plant in Moscow perceived their own developments without enthusiasm and, as a rule, were put on the cloth. Although among them were interesting and promising. As a result, never in its history did the enterprise reach its planned capacity of 200 thousand cars per year. Record - 134 thousand pieces in 1990. The plant could (theoretically) produce more (and there was indeed demand!), But it was always supplied with components according to the residual principle.
By the beginning of the 1990s, in Izhevsk, at the cost of incredible efforts, they managed to develop and bring to the conveyor their own model - IZH-2126 "Orbit". The car remained rear-wheel drive, but it was still a significant step forward compared to the base model Moskvich-412, which was produced already since 1967. The first batch of hatchbacks rolled off the assembly line in the spring of 1991.
And then - the collapse of the USSR, the rupture of economic ties, the era of free prices. To say that the Izhevsk Automobile Plant was not ready for this is to say nothing. Legally, it did not even exist, but was just not the largest division of a huge, slow mailbox, where more than 100 thousand people worked! And if the rest of the country's car factories became corporatized as early as 1992 and tried to sail out on their own, then Izhevsky drowned heroically along with the entire Izhmash production association.
It was not possible to launch the “Orbit” into the mass production, and who needs the archaic “four hundred and twelfth” when the new VAZ “sevens” and “nines” and decent used foreign cars became available! By the mid-1990s, car production in Izhevsk fell catastrophically - to 5 thousand cars a year; the conveyor stood idle for months, most of the qualified personnel left the sinking enterprise. And what if the salary is not paid for six months?
In 1996, the company was finally withdrawn from the Izhmash holding, formally it became independent. True, it was called strange: DAO Izhmash-Auto. DAO is a subsidiary joint-stock company, all of its shares belonged to the defense industry. But this is not important, but the plant got the opportunity to look for partners (including foreign ones), offering them to become shareholders of the enterprise. Then, in 1997-1998, foreign guests began to run into the city. Moreover, memoranda were signed immediately with two foreign and one Russian company, and even with what! The Hyundai company agreed on an assembly project for up to 250 thousand “accents” per year; They wanted to expand the production of engines - up to half a million pieces. Volkswagen almost agreed to assemble two Skoda models in Izhevsk - Felicia and Octavia; on this occasion, in December 1998, a Russian-Czech intergovernmental agreement was even signed.
AvtoVAZ promised to help launch full-fledged Orbit production (and supply motors for it), as well as transfer the Niva assembly to Udmurtia. Alas, nothing happened. In Izhevsk, they collected only 200 Hyundai Accent sedans and 50 VAZ-2121 off-road vehicles, and Skoda did not even get here. Still, the economic crisis was raging in Russia, the demand for cars fell, so the capacities of existing plants were quite enough. Whether to new projects! The Izhevsk Automobile Plant was again almost on the verge of closure … And suddenly, salvation came from where they did not expect it - from the Samara Region.
SOK Group was one of the most closed organizations in Russia. The company of enterprising young Samara residents, headed by Yuri Kachmazov, began in the 90s of the last century with the manufacture of plastic windows, then traded in auto parts, and then VAZs. Soon SOK became the largest dealer of the Volga Automobile Plant. Further - more: Samara residents bought up the shares of the leading suppliers of AvtoVAZ - the Syzran plant "Plastic", Vladimir "Avtopribor" and "Avtosvet", OSVAR, etc. - and by the beginning of the 2000s, the SOK Group felt like a full partner in Togliatti . Moreover, in 1998, she even launched her own RosLada automobile plant in Syzran, where they assembled “classic” VAZ models. The arrival of the Sokovites to the largest (and at the same time idle) automobile enterprise in the region looked like a logical step. Negotiations began in 1999, and in 2000 SOK became a shareholder in the Izhmash-Avto plant. It is still unknown how much Samara paid for a huge plant, but hardly more than $ 10–20 million. However, there were no other buyers!
Young managers immediately set to work: they announced the recruitment of employees, restored old equipment and purchased new ones, set about creating a dealer network.
The beginning of the 2000s is remembered in Izhevsk with nostalgia. Finally, IZH-2126, renamed Ode, was finally delivered to the conveyor, and even with galvanization (remember the advertisement?). The friendship between the leaders of the SOK and AvtoVAZ also bore fruit: first the Six were transferred to Izhevsk, and then the VAZ-2104. In 2003, the long-awaited “Fabula” station wagon appeared in the IL model range, and then an all-wheel drive car.
Negotiations began with the Korean "Kia" on the production of its models in Russia; For this, they created the SOKia company. In a word, the Izhevsk Automobile Plant (by that time it was called IzhAvto) rose from the ashes, and the Grand Prix “At the wheel” in the “Breakthrough of the Year” nomination - for the revival of the plant and brand - was awarded to him in 2001 quite deservedly.
At the end of 2004, the main shareholder of AvtoVAZ was Rosoboronexport (now the Rostekhnologii Group of Companies), and from that moment the decline of the SOK Group began. The defense industry did not like the “Samara” (probably there was a reason, because the JUK was still a very dark structure) and made a lot of efforts to oust them not only from Tolyatti, but also from the auto business in general.
This war could not but affect the position of the Izhevsk Automobile Plant. In 2005, they quickly curtailed the production of their own model IZH-2126. There are two reasons for this: a drop in demand and interruptions in the supply of engines from Togliatti. In the same year, the production of the VAZ-2106 was discontinued. IzhAvto rescued the fact that a little earlier the SOK Group itself embarked on the industrial assembly of foreign cars. The first Izhevsk registration was received by the Korean Kia Spectra sedan. The model, already discontinued in Korea itself, was nevertheless advanced compared to rear-wheel drive VAZs and IZhs: power steering, airbags, anti-lock braking system, air conditioning, automatic transmission! So far, the Izhevsk Automobile Plant has not offered this to its customers.
And although the “Spectra” was two to three times more expensive than the “Oda” and “Lada”, it was in great demand: they released almost 110 thousand sedans. Then in Izhevsk they started collecting small series of the Kia Sorento all-terrain vehicle, the Rio sedan and hatchback. Things were going well, until the country was shaken by a new financial crisis - in 2008. Demand for cars in Russia fell almost twice. Sales of the "fours" and "heels" fell sharply, and the Koreans demanded an advance payment for car kits for the assembly of Kia models. At that time, decent debts were hanging at the factory.
They started to cut staff again, and in March 2009 the conveyor was stopped. And suddenly the news: SOK, it turns out, sold the plant to its own managers for $ 200 million, and not with real money - they say, the new owners will pay the proceeds for the cars that have not yet been released and not sold! The prosecutor’s office, having accused the SOK of taking out the assets of the enterprise and deliberate bankruptcy, opened a criminal case. And in February 2011, the main owner of SOK Yuri Kachmazov and a number of other leaders of the holding and the plant were put on the international wanted list. A year and a half the workshops stood empty while the representatives of Sberbank (after the bankruptcy got the plant) and the external manager tried to understand the situation and find an opportunity to produce cars again. Indeed, on the one hand, there is a completely modern production and qualified personnel, on the other hand, the debt to creditors (Sberbank in the first place) is 13.5 billion rubles. How to live and work with this?
Forced downtime lasted more than a year. Only at the end of September 2010, the first batch of VAZ-2104 station wagons came off the assembly line (after the bankruptcy, the company received the name "United Automobile Group", OAS), and a month later - IZH-27175 vans. The stake on Zhiguli was not made from a good life: only this car could be quickly and cheaply put into production.
However, the site in Izhevsk quickly became attractive: several large companies at once expressed a desire to invest funds and set up production of their models here. Business proposals were made by the alliances Hyundai - Kia and AvtoVAZ - Renault - Nissan; The heads of the Kaliningrad AUTHOR declared their desire to acquire the plant. Incidentally, the Koreans were seriously counting on the Izhevsk site, which already had all the equipment necessary for the release of Spectra, Sorento and Rio. They also intended to assemble Hyundai trucks here. AUTHOR also had a business plan.
But Sberbank, the main creditor of IzhAvto, decided otherwise. Rather, the government of the Russian Federation decided for it: on December 17, 2010, the leadership of Russian Technologies, the main shareholder of AvtoVAZ, in the presence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a memorandum with Sberbank on the purchase of debts and assets of a bankrupt plant. As a result, Sberbank transferred to Rostekhnologii most of the debt of IzhAvto, and for the money from the federal budget. The transaction was finally completed at the end of October 2011, when AvtoVAZ acquired the United Automobile Group, which manages the Izhevsk Automobile Plant, for 1.7 billion rubles.
However, no one expected any other development of events, because by that time AvtoVAZ employees had been taxiing in Izhevsk for a year now. In the spring of 2011, the production of rear-wheel-drive VAZ models was completely transferred there from Togliatti. In the summer, by agreement with the Korean side, they assembled the last batch of Kia cars (2.5 thousand), and in the fall, the plant has been installing equipment for the production of Lada Grant.
According to plans, the budgetary Lada will begin to roll off the IzhAvto conveyor already in the second half of this year, and Zhiguli will go on a well-deserved retirement (demand for the Quartet and Seven fell sharply with the end of the recycling program). According to some reports, it is precisely in Izhevsk that two popular Renault models will also be assembled in full cycle: the Sandero hatchback and the Duster crossover. In two years, the annual production volume will reach 150 thousand cars! IzhAvto is designed to produce 220 thousand cars a year, but after modernization (AvtoVAZ intends to take it up), it will be possible to collect up to 360 thousand cars here.
In the meantime, according to our data, at least 70 thousand cars will be produced in Izhevsk this year, including three Renault models (using the large-assembly method): Koleos, Megan and Scenic. The industrial assembly conditions that apply to the Izhevsk Automobile Plant, as part of the AvtoVAZ - Renault - Nissan group, allow this.
So today the plans of the former defense enterprise are quite optimistic. A huge debt of 13 billion rubles is not so terrible when behind you there is an international automobile alliance of the three largest companies, as well as the Russian government.
Izhevsk Automobile Plant released its first car in December 1966. Today's production capacity is 220 thousand cars per year, the number of employees is 5.7 thousand people. The most popular model is Moskvich-412 (produced from 1967 to 1998); 2.3 million such vehicles were assembled.