Russia resumes car production with stripped-down Lada Granta

·2 min read

Lada, the largest car manufacturer in Russia, has resumed production in spite of numerous sanctions and shortages. The company unveiled a new variant of the Granta, one of its most popular models, that has been stripped of several features that rely on imported components.

Russia's government nationalized Lada parent company AvtoVAZ earlier in 2022, in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, after buying the 68% stake held by Paris-based Renault. The deal reportedly cost Russia one symbolic ruble, though Renault has a six-year option to buy back the stake. With full control of the company, government officials set out to figure out how to build a car without relying on foreign suppliers.

Shown above, the answer is a bare-bones version of the Granta named Classic. It's marketed as the most affordable passenger car available new in Russia, pricing starts at 761,500 rubles (around $13,200), and it's powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 90 horsepower to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. It lacks a lot of things: There's no traction control, no passenger-side airbag, or air conditioning, or remote keyless entry. Buyers do get body-colored exterior trim, power steering, and power-operated front windows as a consolation prize. But anything that requires foreign-sourced parts to manufacture has been removed.

It's worth noting that there are some inconsistencies between the specifications sheet published on June 10 and the official Lada website. The former lists that air conditioning is not available on the Classic, while the latter states that it's part of an option package.

Buyers have three body styles to choose from: sedan, hatchback and wagon. All three are built in Togliatti, Russia. It's too early to tell how long they will remain in production; AvtoVAZ President Maksim Sokolov said Lada is working closely with federal and regional governments to "develop the competencies of Russian suppliers," presumably to bring some of the missing features back sooner or later.

In the meantime, unverified reports claim that stripped-down versions of Lada's other models (including the 45-year-old Niva) are on their way.