VIENNA – Lada maker OAO AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest car manufacturer, and Renault SA of France agree on a strategy for future models to be developed by their joint operation in Russia.

AvtoVAZ’s board of directors has approved the auto makers’ future plans for vehicles and platforms.

“Everybody can see that (Lada hasn’t) launched brand new products for a certain number of years,” says Yann Vincent, AvtoVAZ’s chief operating officer. “So it was very important to obtain the board’s approval for our orientation.”

Renault finalized a deal in February to take 25% equity in AvtoVAZ and be its sole strategic partner. Vincent is the most highly ranked among the four Renault managers working with AvtoVAZ, who also are members of the AvtoVAZ board of managers.

The new product strategy includes a low-cost model range based on Renault’s Logan platform, as well as entry into the C-segment. The company plans to replace the aged boxy rear-wheel-drive Lada 2105 and 2107 (Classic) sedans, as well as the Samara front-wheel-drive family of cars.

“We lead the Russian market in (the low-cost) segment, and we want to continue to do so,” says Vincent, noting the auto maker sells about 400,000 Classics and Samaras a year.

“We will use an existing platform to engineer this (new entry-level) car,” although it has yet to be decided whether to use the Kalina’s or Samara’s architecture.

AvtoVAZ also will use the Logan platform for a B-segment car. The Russian auto maker bought the license for the RF90 platform from Renault that is used for the Dacia Logan MCV station wagon.

“When we bought the license, we bought not only the platform but the (vehicle) body, as well,” says Vincent. “We are going to transform this car into a brand-new Lada by making small changes.”

The platform will be used for the design of other new Lada models, as well.

Additionally, AvtoVAZ and Renault have decided the Lada brand should enter the C-segment, where it has not been represented up to now. “We have decided to enter that segment with a platform which is going to be engineered by AvtoVAZ, but will include parts by Renault,” says Vincent.

Even before Renault acquired a stake in AvtoVAZ, the Russian auto maker was working on a C-segment model called the 2116. Plans now call for using as much as possible of the engineering work already completed. “We are not starting from scratch; we are making extensive use of the 2116 project,” says Vincent.

AvtoVAZ also plans to replace its Lada 4x4 small SUV, formerly known as the Lada Niva. “But in all honesty, there is a lot that has to be done, and this is not our top priority,” Vincent says.

And although AvtoVAZ currently does not manufacture light-utility vehicles, it is considering the production of a commercial van. Plans call for a vehicle similar to the GAZ Gazel, a Russian-made vehicle manufactured by OAO GAZ.

“We are still in the concept engineering phase, so we haven’t made a decision on (whether to build a commercial van),” says Vincent. “But we think we (can) benefit from the experience Renault has in that field.”

AvtoVAZ also has entered into a license agreement with Renault for engine production.

AvtoVAZ President Boris Alyoshin recently announced the goal of producing 1.2 million cars per year at the company’s Togliatti plant. The auto maker is expecting to build about 1 million cars this year, including assembly kits.

Vincent says several bottlenecks in the stamping shop and foundry for example, will have to be eliminated, “if we really want to reach the target figure of 1.2 million units.”