Russian Car Brands
The Russian car industry is notorious for building cheap cars at an expense of quality (most of the time) so it can be affordable for an everyday worker. Many companies were mandated by the state, and as such they often shared brands, which can add to confusion.
Most companies were created either in the 30s (during mass industrialization) or in the 60s (during the car boom in Eastern Europe).
Lada is a trademark by which the renowned company called ‘AutoVAZ’ released almost all of its cars. These cars are amongst the most common and accessible in Russia. The company itself was started in 1969, but the first Lada car came about in 1977. The older models are easily recognizable – they all look extremely simple and awkward.
The value of this brand is hard to ignore – virtually all pre-90s cars in Russia are AutoVAZ-issued.
Founded: July 1941
Headquarters: Ulyanovsk, Russia
Parent organization: Sollers JSC
This is another old and famous Russian brand. It started off in 1941 as a producer of war automobiles (trucks, and so on). Afterwards, they used this knowledge to create commercially available off-road cars. They really only ever created one model – UAZ-469 – and then modified it endlessly. UAZ-469 is that square military car with flat front you could see in movies.
Headquarters: Nizhny Novgorod, NIZ, Russia
Parent: GAZ Group
Owner: Oleg Deripaska
GAZ is one of the first Soviet car brands – it was launched in 1932 as per agreement with Ford. The prominent distinction of this brand was its orientation – the cars weren’t really meant for average workers, but for officials or prestigious personalities. Because of it, the company focused on quality rather than numbers and affordability.
As a result, you can’t see a lot of them on the streets, but they are nevertheless very well-known in the former Soviet countries.
Headquarters: Moscow, Russia
Aurus is a one-car brand. It’s basically a luxury automobile created specifically for high officials in 2020 by the institute called NAMI. Right now, it’s the major Russian luxury car, and you can even buy it, although it’s not really ready for export at the moment.
The Russian car industry isn’t very well-developed. The major brands are still state-favored, while the minor brands have to struggle. There’s only a few notorious minor brands, whose products can still be acquired (one way or another). The list does not include subsidiaries from bigger brands.
Founded: 7 July 1939
Headquarters: Serpukhov, Moscow Oblast, Russia
Parent: PLC Tsentrotorg
SeAZ is a company launched in 1939 and closed in 2013 that mostly just created mini-cars. There were several, but the most successful and prominent is the SeAZ-1111 ‘Oka’. This car made it into the popular culture due to its especially small size.
Headquarters: Moscow, Russia
Moskvitch (‘Muscovite’) is another bankrupt company that functioned in 1929-2010. In the 60s, they started creating the cars that would have a genuinely powerful engine. The resulting cars were somewhere halfway from Lada to GAZ in terms of affordability.
Headquarters: Izhevsk, Russia
Izh (‘Иж’) cars were first introduced in the 70s by the ‘IzhAvto’. They were a slighter better alternative to Lada cars, although they were a lot less known. The last real Izh was discontinued in 2006, and later the company was absorbed by AutoVAZ.
Founder: Mikhail Gorbachev
Headquarters: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Kombat is a name for several high-security cars created by ‘Autokad’ company specifically for the military in 1998. One of the major brand products is the T-98, an off-road armored car designed for the warzone.
Derways Automobile Company