VIENNA – Three Lada vehicles and new sedans from, and Opel are among the most important premieres of this year’s Moscow auto show, which runs until Sept. 9.
Lada maker, the Russian market leader 25% owned by , is calling the Lada XRAY cross/utility concept its most important exhibit at this year’s show. It is the first Lada car designed under the direction of AvtoVAZ’s new chief designer and Volvo’s former design chief Steve Mattin.
Mattin says that in the XRAY name, the letter X stands for crossover while RAY is an acronym for recreation, activity and youth.
says the car shows the “quintessence of the DNA of the new Lada style.” The first cars incorporating some design elements of the XRAY are expected to be unveiled in 2015.
The auto maker also is introducing the restyled version of its Lada Kalina small-car range. AvtoVAZ unveiled the first Kalina in Moscow in 1999, but production of the then-new model did not begin until late 2004. Volume production of the restyled Kalina hatchback and wagon launches in first-half 2013.
AvtoVAZ also shows a Kalina wagon-based electric vehicle called the EL LADA. Russia’s largest auto maker experimented with electric cars even back in the Soviet era, but the company now plans to produce a small series for the first time.
Plans call for production of 100 EVs within two years. The vehicles are intended for use as taxis in the Stavropol region in southern Russia.
Group, the Russian commercial-vehicle maker and contract car-assembler, unveils the next generation of its GAZ Gazel and Sobol LCV family, dubbed Gazel Next and Sobol Next. Volume production launches in February.
In Moscow, show-goers also can see several world and European premieres of models from global auto makers, with the new-generation Mazda6 the most significant.may have decided to unveil the car in Moscow both because sedans are popular in the country and the auto maker is launching an assembly joint venture in Russia.
Mazda Sollers Mfg. Rus, a JV between Mazda and Russian vehicle maker Sollers, plans to launch pilot assembly of the Mazda CX-5 next month in Vladivostok in the country’s Far East region, with volume assembly to follow in October. Mazda6 production will be added later.
Other new sedans will be seen in Moscow as well.’ new-generation Opel Astra Sedan makes its world premiere. The car, in production in Poland since early August, will be manufactured in Russia starting later this year.
GM also shows the Chevrolet Cobalt small sedan, expected to compete in Russia’s budget segment as of 2013. The Cobalt already is produced in Brazil, but cars destined for Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States countries will be sourced from theUzbekistan plant in Asaka, Uzbekistan.
In addition, GM is staging the European premiere of the Thailand-made Chevrolet Colorado pickup and Trailblazer SUV.
One of the rivals in the sedan segment is the newAlmera. The design draws much of its inspiration from the Nissan Sylphy, a well-known brand in some markets outside Russia. The design also suggests the larger Nissan Teana.
However, the Russian Almera sedan is based on theB0 platform, also known as the Logan platform. As the first European-made Nissan model based on the Logan’s underpinnings, the Almera will be built starting in November at the AvtoVAZ plant in Togliatti, Russia.
, Foton, Geely and Lifan are the only Chinese auto makers represented this year. Lifan and Geely cars are assembled at the Avtomobilnaya Kompaniya Derways plant in Cherkessk.
Lifan, the most popular Chinese brand in Russia, shows the X60 cross/utility model as well as the 530 sedan, to be called the Breez in Russia.
Geely exhibits cars assembled locally at Derways as well as China-made vehicles such as the GX7 SUV., which launched sales in Russia earlier this summer, shows several models and Foton is promoting its new Tunland pickup truck.
Luxgen, a subsidiary of Taiwanese manufacturer Yulon Group, is an unusual participant at this year’s Moscow show. It is the Luxgen brand’s first-ever appearance at a European auto exhibition.
In addition to production in Taiwan, theYulon Motor joint venture has built Luxgen vehicles in Hangzhou, China, since the summer of 2011. Luxgen intends to eventually sell cars in Russia, but whether the cars will be imported or assembled locally has not been decided. Luxgen has been negotiating with Derways on a possible joint project.