Which of the former republics of the Union managed to keep their car industry?
The automotive industry is perhaps one of the branches of the national economy most affected by the collapse of the USSR. Almost all factories were connected by inter-republican cooperation. With the demise of the union, all these ties developed over decades collapsed and factories began to close and go bankrupt.
We will not talk about the quality of Soviet cars in this article – this is a completely different story. Even though it was of rather average quality, the Soviet auto industry basically satisfied the needs of the country.
The first among the automakers was the Russian Federation (RSFSR). The main auto enterprises were located here: Moscow – ZiL, AZLK, Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod) – GAZ, Naberezhnye Chelny – KamAZ and Oka, Ulyanovsk – UAZ, Miass – Ural, Izhevsk – Izh-Moskvich. In addition to them, there were more than a dozen car assembly enterprises, where more specialized equipment was made from components.
With the collapse of the USSR, absolutely all car factories experienced a serious economic crisis. Many after him could not get up – ZIL and AZLK died long and painfully.
Western European, American, Japanese, and a little later Korean and even Chinese automakers entered the Russian market. Cars began to be assembled in Kaliningrad and Vladivostok, but these are all foreign brands. There is very little left of its own, primordially current.
Ukraine has managed to defend only a tiny part of its once mighty car industry. Today, many have already forgotten that magnificent LaZ buses were produced in Lviv, Zaporozhye in Zaporozhye, LuAZs in Lutsk, small but very high-torque off-road vehicles, and powerful KrAZ tractors in Kremenchug.
Today, only Kremenchug remains of this diversity. But is it possible to call the production of several hundred trucks full-fledged? In its best years with KrAZ, several tens of thousands of vehicles were produced from its assembly line.
Belarus remained with its own – MAZs and especially BelAZs were able to conquer the world market after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Heavy-duty mining dump trucks of Belarusian production, due to their price, were able to press even the American Caterpillar. This was not the case even in the Soviet years.
In Latvia, excellent minibuses were produced at the RAF plant, but it was destroyed in the very first years of independence. Together with the Riga plant, the Yerevan Automobile Plant, which worked on components from Riga, also went to the bottom. A highly sought-after light van has been produced here for many years.
At some point in Yerevan they wanted to produce VAZ cars, but these plans remained plans.
With the death of the USSR, the history of the Georgian car "Colchis" also ended. They made it on the basis of ZiL. The car had a bunch of flaws and shortcomings, but every year the model was improved, and the build quality improved.
True, information has recently appeared that the current GAZelle will be assembled in Georgia. But it is not exactly!
But Uzbekistan, on the contrary, acquired its own automotive industry during the years of independence – here, at once, Korean Daewoos and then American Chevrolets began to be produced at three factories at once. Moreover, the model range is very wide – from Matiz crumbs to multi-ton trucks. These cars are not exported to the market, but Uzbekistan successfully supplies these cars to all its neighbors.
Rumor has it that China is very interested in locating the production of its cars in Kazakhstan. Perhaps soon another former Soviet republic will join the ranks of automakers’ screwdriver assemblers.