HERE THREE - THERE IS ONE
The Asaka plant impresses even those who are familiar with similar industries in other countries. Not inferior to them at all - neat blue cases and in them a complete “gentleman's set”: press shop, welding, painting, assembly. Everything seems to be like the others, but not quite. The robots are the same, the press equipment too, and the workers in branded clean overalls. But for some reason there are a lot of them - where there is one in Europe, here - two or three. At some stages, where robots have long stood even at AvtoVAZ, manual operations are in Asaka. The casket opens simply: today there is no more prestigious work in the entire Ferghana Valley than on the UzDau conveyor. For every vacant place - a queue. With an average salary in Uzbekistan of $ 20 (!), They get 100 per month on the assembly line, and taking into account bonus and overtime, all 160 come out. Therefore, it’s much more profitable to put three workers in place of one instead of one - it will still be cheaper, than a robot … However, this does not seem to affect the quality of Uzbek cars - the control here is very strict.
DEBT DO NOT SCAR
Fortunately, debt problems that a few years ago did not affect the pace of the plant. At one time, the Asaka plant was built as a joint venture of the Uzbek government (represented by the Uzavtosanoat Association) and the South Korean Daewoo Motors. The joint venture actively used corporate loans, and the plant is valued today at $ 770 million. When Daewoo went bankrupt as a result of the Asian crisis, GM-Da was established on its ruins, and all debt obligations back in 1999 By mutual agreement, the Daewoo was frozen until the final liquidation on October 28, 2005. Negotiations on debts have been going on for a year, the parties exchange “programmatic” statements from time to time, but even the amount that can be discussed is not called.
“Negotiations do not scare us,” assures the president of the Uzavtosanoat association Kudrat Parpiev, “we don’t see any particular problems here.” There are unfulfilled obligations not only on our part, but also at Daewoo. For reference, I can say that the company “Daewoo Motors” had joint projects in 140 countries of the world, and over the five years of negotiations, property disputes were settled by only 3%. GM is very interested in the markets of Central Asia and the CIS. We have been working with the concern since 2002 and during this time we have become one of the largest buyers of car kits (in second place after the Chinese GM-Daewoo, despite the fact that there are 20 such plants in the world). In the first year of cooperation with the new company, we made several dozen changes to Nexia and Matiz. And if she didn’t want to continue the partnership with us, would she be able to give us the “Lacetti” a month after launching in Korea?
Negotiations are ongoing, and meanwhile, the plant is increasing production rates: in 2003, 40 thousand cars were collected, in 2004 - 70 thousand, and the plan for the new year - 110 thousand, of which at least 60 thousand will be exported..
- And can the Russian market be able to digest so many outdated “Nexia” and very small “Matizs”?
“It's not just about your market,” K.Parpiev explains, “although we have been leaders in Russia since 1997 and we are not going to take positions.” But we also have leadership in the markets of other countries of Central Asia and the CIS. Recently received the right to sell cars in China, which is within easy reach - 150 km! Deliveries there will begin in 2005, as well as in Afghanistan. But, of course, the Russian market remains strategic.
To support the interest of buyers, the Uzbeks offer two new modifications of the popular Matiz - with a liter engine and two gearboxes - mechanical and automatic. Last year, saw the light and "luxury" configuration "Matiz" and "Nexia", and now with the purchase it will be possible to order another 40 (!) Options. According to Uzbek marketers, the end of the Nexia era is still just around the corner, and it will be released in Asaka for a maximum of three to four years, while there is demand. For all its reliability and practicality, it is outdated, and they are looking for a replacement.
Actually, the Uzbeks have something to be proud of. Ten years ago there was no automobile industry in the country, and now there it is, and not the most backward. Over the past years, more than $ 1.2 billion of investments have been attracted, and 15 modern, high-tech industries have been set up with partners from Korea, Italy, the USA, Germany, and the Netherlands to service the Asaka plant, apart from the fact that around 50 local businesses. Today, more than 50% of components for Uzbek cars are produced domestically. In general, over the years, more than 400 thousand cars have been produced!
The plans are to attract at least $ 2 billion in investment over the next five years, and create 40–45 new enterprises with foreign participation. For greater attractiveness, Uzavtosanoat plans to transform into a joint-stock company and sell 49% of its shares to strategic investors.
“On this occasion, we have contacts with companies from Asia, Europe and America,” says K. Parpiev. - The automotive industry, as it turned out, is not only a locomotive of the entire economy, but also a profitable business.
… Ten years ago no one believed that a modern enterprise could be created here, seven years ago hardly anyone could have predicted the commercial success of the outdated Nexia, and more recently, a small Matiz was predicted to be a complete failure. Forecasts did not come true. The Uzbek auto industry is already firmly on its feet, is developing and weighs heavily on its presence in the Russian market.