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Russian Cars: the Lada

Lada, also known as VAZ (Volzhsky Automobilny Zavod) in the former Soviet Union, is a Russian carmaker with the biggest annual production—600,000 to 700,000 cars per year. It is the best selling car in Russia, the low price of the base models attractive to the masses. But it is also favoured for its relatively fine workmanship and high quality. Part of the technology for building the Ladas were derived from a partnership with Fiat.

Lada became popular in Western Europe during the 70s up to the 80s, selling the VAZ-2101, a Fiat 124 derivative that was sold as an economy car. The VAZ-2101 or the Lada Classic was built with heavier gauge steel bodywork, to withstand the extreme winters, poor roads and few service facilities—this meant that under normal operating conditions, the car was capable of high mileage (up to 480,000 km). Due to the low base price and ease of service, Ladas were common as taxis, police cars, and public service vehicles in many parts of Europe and Africa.

Renault announced in March 2008, that they were buying a 25% stake in Lada. The deal would provide new Lada models on existing Russian assembly lines and increased production of the car brand. Despite the increasing presence of western car models in the Russian market in recent years, Lada has maintained consistent sales figures. Renault plans to maintain and develop the Lada brand into an independent and world class automobile brand.

The current lineup of Lada cars include the Riva, the Lada Samara2, the Lada Kalina—a low cost supermini, the Lada Priora—the latest line of family economy cars, and a prototype car, the Lada Silhouette—co-designed by Porsche and other car makers.

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