July 01, 2012

Notebook



Auto giant AvtoVAZ has finally stopped making its classic Ladas –the boxy four-door vehicles whose design dates from the 1970s, when the series was copied under license from a popular 1960s Fiat model. The classic line that came to be known as the Zhiguli survived more or less unchanged for several decades, finally ending with the VAZ-2107, also known as the semyorka (“seven”). AvtoVAZ said that demand for the classic model had fallen so low that it no longer makes sense to keep it in production.

Critics meanwhile said that the model was far too expensive (R200,000, or between six and seven thousand dollars). Going forward, the factory will focus on its new Lada Granta (which still looks dated, but is a visual improvement on the Zhiguli). Ironically, the old Lada continues to be produced in Egypt, where a subsidiary of AvtoVAZ constructs them from imported Russian parts.

The Zhiguli was enormously popular in the 1980s, when few people owned cars. Yet over the past ten years the model increasingly became the laughing stock of the car industry, all but replaced by imported cars in wealthy cities such as Moscow, while remaining dominant on roads in less wealthy regions like the North Caucasus.


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