Today’s car manufacturer AvtoVAZ was founded in 1966. However, its first model, the VAZ 2101, did not start production until almost four years later.
The carmaker AvtoVAZ, which produces Lada cars, is one of the important car manufacturers in Russia. With such an idea was already established, the history of the manufacturer originally called VAZ, Volga Automobile Works, began to be written 55 years ago.
It was on July 20, 1966 that the government of the Soviet Union issued an order for the construction of a new automobile plant in the city of Tolyatti, which gave rise to today’s car manufacturer AvtoVAZ. Even then, cooperation was established with the Italian carmaker Fiat, which was to ensure the start of production and the product produced. Relations between the USSR and the Italian Communist Party were positive at the time, after all, according to the late Communist leader Palmir Togliatti from Italy, the city, formerly known as Stavropol on the Volga, was renamed in 1964.
However, the carmaker itself was named after the local river. The cars produced bore her name VAZ, but the specimens for export were named Lada after the Slavic goddess of love, although the name Slavia was originally considered. On the Czechoslovak market, however, due to the eponymous manufacturer of sewing machines from Soběslav, South Bohemia, they had to bear the name Žiguli, according to the mountains near the factory.
The place of production was chosen with regard to the accessible infrastructure, strong industrial background and favorable climate. The plans were really majestic, and to meet unsaturated demand, the new plant was designed to produce 600,000 cars a year. The construction of the factory itself began in 1967.
However, the start of production took some time, the first cars left the assembly line in Tolyatti on April 19, 1970. Even today, however, the result was a rapid start of production, the time from the construction decision to the start of production lasted almost four years, even by today’s conditions it was a short time.
The use of a well-known base in the form of Fiat 124 also helped. However, it was extensively modified for the needs of the Soviet market. In the end, more than 800 modifications were made, primarily involving massive body reinforcements – the original Fiats tested on broken Soviet roads showed considerable body cracks after driving tests. In addition, the ground clearance increased and the engine changed.
However, the start of production itself was subsequently slower. On the first day of production in April 1970, six copies of a car known as the VAZ 2101 rolled off the factory. Gradually, however, production increased, in 1972 the production was supplemented by a derived station wagon VAZ 2102, in 1977, the VAZ 2121 model line followed, aka the offroad Lada Niva. Later, there was also the first front wheel (VAZ 2108) or mini car (Oka).
Today, AvtoVAZ is one of the important car producers, with Lada cars holding a key, 23% share in the domestic Russian market. In its history, the carmaker has produced over 30 million cars, surpassing the first million in 1973. The company is now part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. A strategic partnership with Renault was signed in 2008.