The automotive industry in Russia is in the top 20 globally, ranking in the second ten. It does not play a decisive role in the country’s economy, giving way to more developed industries. However, it offers many authentic models of cars and trucks adapted to local operating conditions. Some stamps came from the time of the Soviet Union; others appeared after its collapse.
The most famous and original brands include IZH, Lada, Niva, VAZ, GAZ, and many others. The largest passenger car manufacturer in Eastern Europe is AvtoVAZ. The KAMAZ company is ranked 11th in the world ranking for the production of freight transport. The GAZ Group is considered the largest enterprise in the Russian automotive industry, including 12 industry organizations.
Major Russian Car Brands
1 AvtoVAZ (1966-Present)
The first name of this Russian company was VAZ, derived from the phrase Volga Automotive Plant. The manufacturer appeared in 1966 in the city of Tolyatti from Samara Oblast. His most famous car series is Lada. But until the 1990s, the plant’s assortment included many other passenger cars’ lines intended for the domestic consumer market. Among them are Zhiguli, Oka, Sputnik, which were subsequently discontinued. At the end of 2019, AvtoVAZ assembled Niva cars under the Chevrolet brand.
In 2020, the company became a subsidiary of Alliance Rostec Auto, and it, in turn, is owned by Groupe Renault since it owns a controlling stake. Thus, the Russian firm is now its consolidated enterprise. In addition to its own Lada cars, a transport building plant from Russia produces cars of the Datsun, Nissan, and Renault brands for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance group. At the beginning of 2021, the company entered the structure of Renault’s Lada and Dacia.
2 Lada (1970-Present)
Russian car brand produced at the AvtoVAZ plant (formerly VAZ), which belongs to the French company Groupe Renault. Since January 2021, this series of passenger cars has been integrated with the Dacia brand within Renault’s Lada-Dacia general division.
The debut samples came out with the technical support of Fiat and were presented as Zhiguli. Renaming to Lada took place in 1973. Cars under this brand were intended for export abroad, but then they began to be supplied to Russia’s domestic market. This happened in the 90s of the 20th century. In 2016, Groupe Renault gained full control over the brand, although it began supporting it in 2008.
3 GAZ (1932-Present)
The name of the GAZ company stands for Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, of which only the first letters are used. This Russian manufacturer of passenger cars appeared in the city of Nizhny Novgorod in 1932. The plant was built with Ford Motor Company’s participation, which signed an agreement with the Soviet Union. The first years the enterprise bore the name Naz – from the city’s name where it is located (Nizhegorodsky Avtomobilny Zavod).
The Russian automaker’s debut products were a Ford Model A (Naz-A) passenger car and a Ford Model AA (Naz-AA) truck. Then the name changed, and the assortment expanded. Today it is the basic subsidiary of GAZ Group Holding, part of the Basic Element group. And the controlling shareholder of OAO GAZ is JSC Russian Machines.
4 KAMAZ (1969-Present)
This Russian automaker’s full name is JSC KAMAZ (the abbreviation is derived from Kamskiy Avtomobilny Zavod). The company is located in Naberezhnye Chelny of the Republic of Tatarstan, which opened in 1969. She specializes in trucks, which produces about 43 thousand a year. The main region of their supply in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Trucks from this brand have won the Dakar Rally 18 times.
The company owns over 110 production departments and subsidiaries, forming the KAMAZ Group. She also owns authorized capital in more than 50 specialized firms. Its main industrial facilities are concentrated in Naberezhnye Chelny. Also, they are available in Bashkortostan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, India, and Azerbaijan.
5 NAMI (1918-Present)
This brand’s name is derived from the Russian-language version of the phrase “Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute.” Moreover, this is not only a plant but also an automobile laboratory with headquarters in Moscow. The first few years after its foundation (1918), NAMI was engaged in tractor equipment.
In the 1930s, the institute became the leading department of the automotive industry. Trucks, tractors, and trolleybuses were developed there. After 1946, the enterprise was divided into two parts – for the automotive and tractor-building industries. He also got a motorcycle brand. Now the company produces executive cars for the country’s leadership.
6 Aurus Senat (2013-Present)
This is a sub-brand of NAMI, established in Moscow in 2020. He is engaged in the manufacture of the presidential state car, which was first exhibited at one of the Moscow International Automobile Salon’s annual events. He also presented the Kortezh series, including an SUV, a minivan, and a sedan. This collection is called UMP (Unified Modular Platform).
7 UAZ (1941-Present)
The name of this manufacturer of transport equipment is an abbreviation for Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, located in Ulyanovsk. The company appeared in 1941 and is now part of the Sollers group (since 2000). At her sites, she collects trucks, buses, and SUVs.
But the most legendary car of this brand is UAZ-469. The car of this brand began to be produced immediately after the opening of the plant. She was the most popular during the Second World War. The car has been redesigned, modernized, and has several modifications: Patriot, Hunter, and Pickup.
Manufacturer, Truck, Bus, Other
This large group is represented by car manufacturers, armored vehicles, pickups, trucks, vans, and specialized vehicles. This also includes companies that are in partnership with foreign firms and private structures, and industrial associations. Some of them have been working for a very long time and have rich experience (SeAZ, Aleko); others are newly created enterprises and have modern equipment (SpetsTekh, Ford Sollers).
1 Aleko (1930-2010)
The Moskvitch-2141 brand, first announced in 1985 and embodied in an old-style sedan, is the Moscow company’s backbone. Its name has nothing to do with names or literary characters – the word “Aleko” is made up of the first letters of the phrase “Avtomobilny zavod imeni Leninskogo Komsomola.” The car of the same name was produced until 1997 until the rebranding was carried out with the car’s technical modernization. Then the old brand was replaced by a new one – Svyatogor.
2 Derways Automobile Company (2004-2019)
The automobile company, founded in 2003, is named after its creator. One part is a fragment of the surname Derev Hadji-Murat (Der), the second is the English word “ways.” The enterprise is the first private manufacturer of passenger cars in Russia. It is located in Cherkessk of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia and is part of the Mercury Group. Since 2007, Derways has been cooperating with two Chinese companies to produce transport equipment jointly. These are Liaoning SG Automotive Group Co., Ltd and Lifan Group.
3 Ford Sollers (2011-2019)
In 2019, the American partner announced the bilateral agreement restructuring and the termination of passenger cars’ assembly. There is only a plant in Yelabuga, which works according to a simplified scheme, producing a single model – the Ford Transit van.
4 GM-AvtoVAZ (2001-2019)
Former US-Russian company represented by General Motors (USA) and AvtoVAZ (Russia). It appeared in 2001 and produced the Chevrolet Niva car based on the Lada Niva at the Tolyatti plant. After the company was completely transferred to the Russian side’s ownership, which was acquired in 2019, this organization stopped working. In December of the same year, it was closed.
5 Сombat Armouring (1998-Present)
The automotive company from Saint Petersburg, founded in 1985. His first passenger car was the Laura. Two years after its establishment, the company started producing the Ohta minivan. In 1990, she acquired a military plant, where she opened a large-scale production. Since 1993, this organization has been manufacturing armored vans and vehicles for courier and other specialized services.
6 Renault Russia (1998-Present)
The car manufacturer from Russia was founded in 1998 under the name Avtoframos. He then signed an agreement with the Renault concern, creating a joint venture. Over time, the French side completely took control of this organization, paying off its debts. Renault Russia is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of a French company that was renamed it in 2014.
7 SeAZ (1939-2013)
The name of the company is made up of the phrase Serpukhovsky Avtomobilny Zavod. The production site was located in the city of Serpukhov Moscow Oblast. From the moment of its foundation (1939) and until 1995, the company was engaged in motorcycles’ manufacture. Later, she switched to the production of cars for disabled people, and then ultra-small cars – Lada Oka microcars developed by AvtoVAZ – appeared in its range. In 2013, the plant closed due to bankruptcy.
8 Silant (2010-Present)
The Russian company of 2010, previously called Avtospetsoborudovanie. It is located in Velikiy Novgorod (Novgorod Oblast), manufacturing specialized vehicles on a 4×4 platform. Also, Silant is the brand and name of a vehicle designed by NAMI (National Automotive Institute). The company produces firefighters, ambulances, utilities, refrigeration, universal, rotational, and other vehicles. They are equipped with four-wheel drive and three-seater cabins.
9 Sollers JSC (2002-Present)
The company was founded in 2002 and specializes in the production of a wide range of transport equipment. Its assortment includes off-road vehicles, cars, tractors, commercial vehicles. Previously, the company was called OAO Severstal-Auto. The companies included in it are distinguished by the stability of work and wide popularity, occupying a confident position in all industrial market segments. The company currently owns a controlling stake in ZMA, Zavolzhye Motor Works, and Ulyanovsk Automobile Works.
10 VAZInterService (1991-Present)
The Russian manufacturer of pickups is located in the city of Tolyatti (Samara Oblast). It appeared in 1991 as a subsidiary of AvtoVAZ and was engaged in the manufacture of spare parts for the Lada car. In 2003, the company became an independent company and received a closed joint-stock company’s legal status under the name VIS-AVTO.
11 Yarovit Motors (2003-Present)
A manufacturer of specialized equipment from St. Petersburg was founded in 2003 when Yarovit Holdings acquired the Leningrad Metal Plant. Since then, he has been assembling and refurbishing Dutch Terberg tractors. The company offers multi-axle trucks and road vehicles for the transportation of oversized and extra heavy loads. There are also models for driving in difficult weather and landscape conditions. The assortment is represented by concrete mixers, timber trucks, dump trucks, and other machines for various functional purposes.
12 SpetsTekh (2002-Present)
It is a world-renowned supplier of specialized machinery and off-road vehicles. It appeared in 2002 in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, where it manufactures cars, ATVs, tractors, all-terrain vehicles on tracked and wheeled chassis. Its products are intended for search and rescue services, hunters, power engineers, geologists, oil and gas, and other enterprises.
Defunct Car Brands
If manufacturers are eliminated, this does not mean at all that all their cars have automatically disappeared. Not! They still drive on the roads, delighting the owners with beauty and reliability. After all, there are many reasons for the closure of car companies – from mergers to bankruptcy. Some could not withstand the competition, some – the circumstances of the time, since the 90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union became a huge shock for the majority with unpredictable economic consequences. Therefore, the disappearance of the car manufacturers happened just at the beginning of the 2000s. A striking example is Moskvich, ZiL, Russo-Balt, etc.
1 Amur (1967-2010)
The company was founded in 1967; the year of liquidation is 2012. Its location is the city of Novouralsk (Sverdlovsk Oblast). The name is an abbreviation and stands for Ural Automobiles and Motors. The company was engaged in the manufacture of commercial vehicles. Now all of her assets are sold, and she has disappeared.
2 IzhAvto (1965-2008)
The company existed from 1965 to 2008, is known under the name IZhMASh (Izhévsky mashinostroítelny Zavod – Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant). She was in the city of Izhevsk in the Republic of Udmurtia. It was part of a larger structure founded in 1807 by the emperor of Russia, Alexander I. The enterprise self-liquidated and its technical base was re-qualified for a different direction.
3 Marussia (2007-2014)
The young car brand existed for a relatively short time – from 2007 to 2014. It was created by Nikolai Fomenko, Andrey Cheglakov, Libor Haluza and produced the first Russian sports cars. Her Marussia B1 racing car raced in F1 from 2012 to 2014. After this period, the team was disbanded, and the enterprise was liquidated.
4 Moskvich (1930-2010)
The legendary Russian brand has existed for many years – from 1929 to 2006. Cars under this brand were produced by the AZLK plant located in the capital of Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the enterprise was privatized, and at the beginning of the new century, it was abolished. The name Moskvich meant a native of the city of Moscow since the company was located there.
5 Russo-Balt (1894-1923)
One of the oldest car brands in Russia appeared in 1894. Until 1923, she manufactured cars and airplanes. At first, the plant was located in Riga and St. Petersburg, where he was evacuated to Moscow. But initially, the company was a subsidiary of Van der Zypen & Charlier of Cologne-Deutz (Germany), which sold it to Riga investors. In 2006, the brand was revived. It produced buses, trucks, and cars.
6 TagAZ (1997-2014)
The automaker was named Taganrogskiy Avtomobilnyi Zavod and was based in Taganrog (Rostov Oblast). It existed for a short period – from 1997 to 2014. After that, the company was liquidated due to bankruptcy. Prior to that, she assembled Citroën Berlingo, Hyundai (Accent, Sonata, Elantra, Porter series), Vortex (Estina, Corda, Tingo lines) and some others.
7 Yo-Mobile (2010)
This is the first Russian hybrid passenger car called ё-AUTO, which the project developers invented themselves since none of the proposed 12,000 options suited them. The car had sliding doors, and it was made in an innovative design. Because the founders could not find investors, the program was curtailed, and the brand was abolished. It was sold to the Russian government for one euro. This brand never got into mass production – it was liquidated in 2014.
8 ZiL (1916-2013)
It was the largest automotive company in Russia, and its name stands for Zavod imeni Likhachyova (Likhachov Plant) in Russian. The company appeared in 1916 in Moscow, where it was engaged in the large-scale production of large-sized vehicles. Trucks, dump trucks, military vehicles, and heavy equipment rolled off its conveyors. The manufacturer assembled its last series in 2012. Since 2013, it has existed only as property.
9 ZMA (1987-2010)
This manufacturer of automobiles and heavy goods vehicles is located in Naberezhnye Chelny, founded in 1987. The enterprise is part of the Sollers JSC group of companies and previously was engaged in producing small cars Oka under the VAZ license. Hence its abbreviated name is taken, which means Zavod Malolitrazhnykh Avtomobiley. In 2005, ZMA acquired Severstal-Avto, which reoriented it to the assembly of foreign cars. In particular, the plant manufactured three models of Ford passenger cars – Fiesta, EcoSport, Sollers. Their production was stopped in 2010.
10 Avtokam (1989-1999)
This Russian company has existed since 1989, with headquarters in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny (Tatarstan). The decision to establish it was made at a conference in Elabuga, at which the entrepreneur Grigory Rysin put forward his proposal. It is an association of several companies from different fields of activity with related interests in the automotive industry.
The founding group includes 37 members, including Tatneftekhimmontage, Intertap, Ivanovo Machine Tool Association, Karpov Chemical Plant (Mendeleyevsk), and many others. The brand focuses on affordable vehicles. The company has also partnered with the British group FSV to launch the Rickman Ranger passenger car. But since 1999, the manufacturer has not been active.
Hainov Gennady Yevgenyevich founded this Russian company in 1985. He was also its leading designer and designer. The company is engaged in the production of SUVs and is currently focused on two models. The first is Dragon Astero; the second is Dragon Jump. Both are assembled from assemblies and parts of three well-known cars from Russia. In particular, they are made based on VAZ, GAZ, and UAZ.
12 Doninvest (1991-2014)
It is a Russian industrial group that produced Daewoo passenger cars under Assol, Kondor, and Orion’s domestic brands. Its sites were located in the cities of Taganrog and Aksay (Rostov Oblast). After several attempts to sign agreements with other foreign companies to stay afloat, the company still went bankrupt and closed. This happened in 2014.