GAZ Group says it aims to achieve RUB5bn (US$93m) in cost savings this year as it prepares to launch its new full metal van based on the Gazelle Next chassis.

The Russian automaker – in common with virtually every automotive producer in the country – is seeing a market continually buffeted by economic headwinds largely caused by external political factors and which has seen consumer confidence plummet along with sales.

GAZ has revamped its line-up and last year alone either launched or modernised a product every month, while also increasing its export markets from 23 countries in 2013 to 33 in 2014 as part of tycoon owner, Oleg Deripaska’s efficiency drive.

“It is absolutely clear the Russian market is too small for GAZ Group – there is no way we could grow our market share on the Russian market alone,” said GAZ Group president, Vadim Sorokin at his company’s headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod this week.

“We are still planning to continue growing in our country,through extending our product offering, for example with light commercial vehicles.  [And] We are seriously aiming to increase our exports and this is the greatest potential.

“Right hand drive, we mostly look at India [while] prospective markets include [the] Middle East, Africa, Latin America and South East Asia [as well as] Eastern Europe.”

“Our ambition is quite big – when you start to invest it is stupid to only invest in product only to satisfy the Russian market.

“We plan to save RUB5.3bn this year – equivalent to our total investment programme for 2015.”

GAZ also currently cooperates with three overseas automakers; Volkswagen, Daimler and General Motors creating new assembly and welding shops at the Nizhny Novgorod site, as well as modernising the paint facility and upgrading the logistics system, all of which have created new jobs at the factory around 250 miles east of Moscow.

The company also has joint ventures in the plant with exhaust systems provider, Bosal and Swedish fastener manufacturer, Bulten, with the latter encompassing cold heading to thread rolling and heat treatment.