Lada cars could make a return to the UK on the back of a new range of modern cars still under development, so it will not be any time soon.

The Russian cars have not been seen here since 1996 when the Riva saloon, Samara hatchback and Niva 4×4 were phased out – models so old that even the addition of fuel injection a couple of years before that was deemed ‘high tech’.

The Riva, based on an ancient Fiat, dates back to the factory’s beginning in 1966 and, amazingly, is still being made and now called the Lada Classic. The Samara is also still being turned out at the vast AvtoVAZ plant in Togliatti, 600 miles south east of Moscow.

The Niva is now made under a joint venture with General Motors in Togliatti and wears a Chevrolet badge. There are also a couple of other more modern cars, the Kalina and the Priora, which are made in hatchback, sedan and wagon forms.

Earlier this year, however, Renault, with an eye on the fast-growing Russian market, took a 25% stake in AvtoVAZ and is helping the Russians develop new cars. One, the Lada 2116, has been seen as the Concept C, but now looks a very different three-box sedan sitting in the company’s technical centre.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Although it looks ready for production, the reality is still a long way off, waiting for the construction of a new line at the factory to build Renault 1.4- and 1.6-litre engines under licence. This platform, developed by AvtoVAZ, will also carry a 4×4 crossover vehicle which is under development.

When will the 2116 go into production? “Not soon enough,” says chief operating officer Yann Vincent, a former Renault purchasing chief shipped in to head up the factory business. First up, however, will be an all-new MPV developed off the platform of the Dacia Logan, another affiliate of the French company.

AvtoVAZ also has a licence to use this platform and according to the company’s new head of design, Briton Anthony Grade, an all new body style has already been signed off. Again, production details await the arrival of the new engines.

The AvtoVAZ business is also being overhauled. Company president Boris Aleshin said some non-core business would be sold off and the vast 105,000 workforce trimmed by up to 25,000, many of whom will work for newly formed, independent businesses.

The company’s business portfolio includes vehicle components, plastics moulding and even hotels, construction and recreational facilities.

Aleshin said: “Our focus will be on design, development, assembly, sales, service and financial services. We will look to divest some of the other business areas and they will have to seek their own investors or mergers.”

The factory last year built 683,830 vehicles but has a capacity of more than 1.2m a year. COO Vincent said his plan is to reach that target by uncorking the bottlenecks in the foundry and stamping plants.

He added that any spare production capacity could be soaked up in future by making Renault and Nissan brand models in Togliatti.

That seems a long way off at the moment. Vincent added: “The factory is huge and some of the machinery is 40 years old, but it has been incredibly well maintained.”

While the company awaits the new manufacturing and vehicle technology, the Fiat based cars live on.

Aleshin said: “They still sell. They may not have a future, and perhaps by 2011 they will be gone, but in the present market they are in demand and cheap.”