“NIVA” PRODUCTION IN KAZAKHSTAN
Niva is one of such legendary cars. A quarter of a century she is with us. It was exported to dozens of countries of the world, recognizable on all continents, sporting achievements in rally raids and marathons put it on the same level with much more famous companies. Not for nothing that many owners have unlimited faith in its truly horsepower and capabilities.
And suddenly - the news of the imminent termination of the assembly! What is the reason for this decision? Maybe the exterior disliked the people? No, no worse than other conveyor veterans, from the Indian Willis Mahindra to the Gelendavagen. Running outdated? If she were worthless with an old woman, they would not have taken her as the basis for the Chevy. No, the reason is different - they clear the way for the "American" (I wonder who benefits from this?). By the way, "Niva" punched her herself. And she won, apparently, not only at the cost, even if letters were sent from Germany with requests to continue its release. And in Russia, she always had her own buyer.
We were perplexed. Friends and acquaintances spoke of arbitrariness, another conspiracy of the leadership of the VAZ and the government, of the omnipotent lobby. And suddenly the unexpected news about the beginning of the assembly of the Niva in Kazakhstan.
First thought: Niva died! How, who, where and from what will our pet do in a foreign land? On December 9, 2002, the first Kazakh VAZ 2121 3 was assembled in Ust-Kamenogorsk, East Kazakhstan Region. In 2003 there should already be ten thousand - more than 800 per month. On four or five lifts, such a program cannot be mastered. Where did the car assembly plant come from in the “camel corner” of Asia? Six hours of flight - and many questions were answered. The new plant will not only have ten - and thirty thousand will be assembled in a year, there would be demand and components.
Remember Euro Samara from Finland? They favorably differed from the Togliatti in build quality and finish. They were collected at the SAAB branch, Valmet Automotiv Plant. In three years they made about 15 thousand cars; part went to Europe, part went back to Russia. The Finns installed modern equipment designed for serious and long work. It should not be any other way - Valmet specializes in prestigious convertibles. Today it’s SAAB 9–5 and the Porsche Boxster.
But in 1998, due to the loss of profitability of the project, they decided to dismantle the conveyor. Valmet wanted to keep it for itself, but VAZ sued the rights and in the beginning of 2001 set about searching for buyers. There were several applicants, but the main ones were two: Ukrprominvest, which was planning to launch the production of Nines in Lutsk, and Bipek-Avto from Ust-Kamenogorsk with the Niva assembly project, AvtoVAZ dealer in Kazakhstan. It was he who was preferred. The company was named "Asia-Auto". The production building and personnel were found quickly, because Ust-Kamenogorsk is a large industrial center of the former Union. VAZ specialists were invited to key posts, and there were no one to join the assembly line either: now 60% of those working there have higher education or study.
"Niva" of the "Asian" assembly are designated as follows: XTA and body number are stamped back in Togliatti, and the VIN of the car with the letters XWW is on the plate. Soon, the Asia-Auto logo may appear on the radiator lining, license plate light and in the center of the steering wheel, replacing the familiar boat. But now Kazakhstan’s “fields” are easily recognizable by plastic fenders, alloy wheels of Krasnoyarsk and Kama-Fly 205 / 70R16 tires - with them the car looks much more spectacular than a VAZ that came off the assembly line. Riding along the endless steppes is more fun with music, so the Ural radio is already in the Standard package. For the Niva, the Kazakh assembly is asked for $ 5, 500, an entire $ 100 less than the usual Togliatti one. In the future, there are “normal”, “luxury” and “safari” configurations with a wide range of options: electric mirrors, headlight cleaning, hydraulic or electric power steering, leather seats, air conditioning, winch, Monroe or Plaza shock absorbers, additional noise insulation and anticorrosion. In small-scale production, an almost individual approach to the customer is possible, but VAZ permissions must be obtained for all changes. In honor, the engines are simpler, the "213rd" - with a carburetor, without any "euros" there. Here, however, is Asia.
Of course, while the work of the plant is completely dependent on VAZ supplies. But under the terms of the contract, on December 31, 2008, the last car kits will be shipped to Asia-Auto from Tolyatti. By this time, in Ust-Kamenogorsk for three years, its own bodywork production should work. The bodies will be welded and painted using modern imported equipment - the reconstruction of the workshops is in full swing. There is a problem with presses for the manufacture of body panels. They want to place the stamping on the side, but not every plant could do it.
They are working on industrial options for restyling, this is done by leading Togliatti tuning companies and a well-known automobile designer, one of the authors of the VAZ “ten” Georgi Yartsev, who lives in Belgium. It is hoped that the fresh appearance of the machine will increase its export to the republics of the former Union, China and, possibly, even to Europe.
And what is the “Asian” in motion? I take the car from the conveyor, now it remains to go through several diagnostic posts and a sprinkler chamber. The front wheel alignment stand is already behind. I drive the car onto running drums - there is no test track yet here, like on a VAZ, therefore the build quality is checked at the “Valmet” stands. “I disperse” the “Niva” to 70 km / h - with the misalignment of the gearbox and the “transfer case”, vibration should appear. While she is gone. Already 80, 90 - I'm spinning further … A hundred, but no more vibrations than in the Togliatti. I brake: free play - normal, does not hit the foot - the brake discs are even. Now in the rain. Real tropical rain, but dry inside, the seals are reliable. The glossy body is dried with compressed air - and in the warehouse. There he will not get dusty.
Operating room: everything is sterile.
Today, the Niva, and tomorrow, maybe Toyota?