ZAZ history – from Zaporozhets to Lanos
The enterprise “Zaporozhye Automobile Plant” traces its history back to a small agricultural equipment manufacturing plant established in 1863 in Aleksandrovsk (as the city of Zaporozhye was then called). The whole ZAZ model range.
After the revolution, the company was transformed into a combine factory. However, during the Second World War the plant was destroyed to the ground.
The restored company was redirected to the production of automobiles and by 1960 ZAZ-965, a small-capacity vehicle with a rear-mounted 28 hp air-cooled engine, started to leave its shops.
For the characteristic shape of the back of the body, in some ways resembling a Volkswagen Beetle, the people called the car “humpback”. Despite a somewhat humiliating nickname, the car was popular for its unpretentiousness and relatively low price.
Later it was replaced by ZAZ-968, which had a sedan body and a rear position of the air-cooled engine with an output of 40 hp. During the years of production the truck was produced in various modifications, first of all modernization was carried out in order to adapt the control for different categories of disabled people.
The only more or less large restyling was done for the 968M: the engine cooling air intakes were changed, the design and construction of the rear lights were changed, the interior design was improved and the shape of the front of the car was changed.
Since 1987, ZAZ began to produce a small front-drive hatchback “Tavria” with a 51 hp engine. The company’s products were in demand and by the end of the decade the annual production of cars Zaporizhzhya plant reached 80 thousand.
However, the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the next decade brought many problems to the Zaporizhzhya Automobile Plant. In the changed economic conditions, the company was engaged in a radical restructuring of production.
Despite the very difficult situation in the middle of the 90s it was possible to produce up to 103 thousand cars a year. In addition to the three-door Tavria, the company has set up the production of its five-door version called “Dana”.
In May 1998, a joint venture called AvtoZAZ-Daewoo was established. In addition to modifications of “Tavria”, the company intended to produce cars developed by Daewoo. The youngest model, Lanos, was in the greatest demand, and was produced until 2014. The photo below shows ZAZ Chance.
Six years later, the company, which by that time had become a Closed Joint-Stock Company, was named Zaporizhzhya Automobile Building Plant. A radical reorganization of production was carried out and production of automotive products of Opel and VAZ companies was additionally started.
Next year, the company’s Ilyichevsk division started production of public transit buses I-VAN designed on the basis of “TATA” car. A year later, Chery, a Chinese company, launched production of various vehicles.
Due to the attractive price, the ZAZ-Sens model, which is structurally a Lanos, but with its own engine developed by ZAZ designers with a working volume of 1.4 liters, was in particular demand. Later the car was called Lanos 1.4.
By 2009 ZAZ began to produce Lanos more than half of the components manufactured in Ukraine. The enterprise continued to increase output and expand the range of models. However, political instability in 2014 led to the suspension of production.
And by the fall, management had to fire 21,000 employees. As of spring 2015, production of automobiles was completely halted, with only a few spare parts production units operating.