January 1, 2017 will be the 85-th anniversary of the Gorky Autoplant - the key business unit of GAZ Group, a company of Basic Element, one of the major diversified industrial groups in Russia. The Autoplant was built in 18 months and launched into operation in early January 1932 and on January 29 the first truck rolled off its lines - a “one-and-half-tonner” truck GAZ-AA. The Gorky automobile plant is the traditional supplier of best-in-class light commercial and medium-duty trucks for different spheres of economy, small and medium-sized businesses, social institutions.
In 2017, the largest enterprise of the Russian automotive industry, the Gorky automobile plant is celebrating its 85-th anniversary: On January 1, 1932, the first plant whistle signalled the birth of the new enterprise. The name of the Gorky Autoplant is associated with the large-scale transition of the country to automotive transport, providing the agricultural sector with medium-duty trucks and organizing passenger taxi transportation. Since its foundation, GAZ has produced more than 18 million cars and trucks launching into production over 350 models and versions of their vehicles.
Following the history of GAZ Group products, one can follow the history of establishment and development of the national automotive industry. Many of them embody whole epochs in the life of the state. The most famous models of the Gorky automobile plant include the legendary "emka" car and the “one-and-half tonner" truck GAZ-AA, the famous trucks GAZ-66, GAZ-52 and GAZ-53, the passenger cars “Pobeda", "Volga" and "Chaika". In the 90-ies, the 1.5 t GAZelle played a huge role in the development of market economy, the expansion of freight and passenger transportation, giving a boost to the development of Russian entrepreneurship.
The Gorky automobile plant played a huge role in the development of other industries - the experience of GAZ specialists was shared with Ulyanovsk automobile plant, Volzhskiy automobile plant, Kamskiy group of truck producing plants, etc. The Gorky automobile plant created the school of automotive design in the country: in a short time, GAZ mastered the full technological cycle of automobile development and formed the basis of training of highly-skilled experts for the machine-building industry.
During the Great Patriotic War, the Auto giant played an important role in winning the victory over the enemy. In a short period of time, the company switched to mass production of military products - tanks, armored vehicles, self-propelled artillery and ammunition. The Avtozavod T-60 tanks that took part in the famous November 7, 1941 parade on Red Square, are one of the symbols of the victory in the battle under Moscow. Many workers and engineers of the plant who fought at the war fronts, sacrificed their lives defending the Motherland. The team of the plant was awarded three orders - of Lenin, of Red Banner, of Patriotic War 1st class - for their self-sacrificing labor during the War years. Thousands of Avtozavod employees were awarded orders and medals, the plant was distinguished with 33 Challenge banners of the State Defense Committee.
In the post-war period, the plant started to produce new models of trucks and cars the development of which was not stopped even during the war years. These vehicles took part in reconstruction of the plants ruined during the war, in the upturn of the virgin lands, in construction of Baikonur spacecraft launch site and BAM main railway. In 1994, the plant started producing GAZelle vehicles that helped in the difficult conditions of the transition period not only to keep the team and the production capacity of the plant itself, but also gave a new impetus to the development of the entire economy of the country. In the early 2000-ies, GAZ was integrated into Oleg Deripaska's assets and became the basis of GAZ Group, the leading Russian holding company producing commercial vehicles. Starting from 2003, the Gorky automobile plant was the first in the country to implement the lean production system that helped to increase labor productivity at the plant by four times. GAZ experience in lean manufacturing is adopted not only by automotive companies but also by the leaders of various sectors of the Russian economy (RF Sberbank, Rosatom, etc.).
The GAZ Group Gorky automobile plant today utilizes advanced technologies of the global automotive industry to develop and manufacture motor vehicles, including those running on alternative fuels. The plant produces a wide range of light and medium-duty commercial vehicles: minibuses, vans and combi-vans, chassis, drop-side trucks. GAZ vehicles serve as platforms for building over 300 kinds of specialized vehicles: ambulances, school buses, tank trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, cash-carriers, etc. The most popular brands today are GAZelle, Sobol and GAZon. The plant maintains leadership in the Russian market, accounting for about 50% in the segment of light commercial vehicles and about 70% in the segment of medium-duty trucks. GAZ is also one of the leaders of the national automotive component market.
Over the last five years, GAZ fully upgraded its model portfolio and developed a new generation of the NEXT family vehicles with improved performance characteristics, an entirely new level of quality, reliability, safety and comfort. In 2013, GAZ started serial production of GAZelle NEXT, in 2014 - its passenger-cargo version, as well as frame bus Next and the medium-duty GAZon NEXT truck, in 2015 - GAZelle NEXT panel van, in 2016 - GAZelle NEXT passenger van. The new models extend the line-up of GAZ vehicles for the Russian market and have a high export potential.
When preparing for production of the NEXT family vehicles, GAZ carried out a large-scale modernization of its production facilities: installed new robotic welding lines, created a new press shop, commissioned a new painting complex Eisenmann. The level of automation of the production processes reaches 85%.
The production of GAZ commercial vehicles introduced the quality management system in compliance with international standards. It ensures conformity of the parameters of each car with the approved specifications throughout the production cycle (welding, painting, assembly), which helps to achieve a high level of reliability and security of the products. The plant is utilizing the methodology of vehicle audit for assessment of its quality from the standpoint of the consumer.
GAZ implements the investment projects at their main site in collaboration with international partners - Volkswagen and Daimler. GAZ established a full-cycle production process of passenger cars Škoda Octavia, Škoda Yeti, Volkswagen Jetta and the commercial vehicle Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. GAZ industrial partnerships with the global leaders of the automotive sector opened new prospects for localizing component production at GAZ Group companies: stamping of body panels for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at GAZ, production of engines for Mercedes vehicles at Yaroslavl engine plant. In addition, GAZ is developing cooperation with foreign manufacturers of automotive components: a joint venture with an international manufacturer of exhaust systems Bosal, as well as a joint venture with the Swedish company Bulten, specializing in production of fasteners. The joint projects with international automakers allowed to upgrade the production capacities of the plant, to provide training to personnel in the best standards of the global automotive industry and to use the competences acquired in improving its own model range.
The scope of activities of the Gorky automobile plant also includes production of more than 5 000 items of automotive components. The component production of GAZ is one of the largest Russian manufacturers in its segment, producing axles and suspensions, wheel disks, exhaust system elements, iron castings, forgings and production tooling. GAZ is an active participant in the programs of localization and import substitution: in 2015 it organized the production of stamped body parts for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, in 2016 GAZ became a supplier of components for Ford Sollers engine plant, Bulten - GAZ joint venture was nominated to supply its products for the industrial projects of the Renault-Nissan and AVTOVAZ Alliance, etc.
The Gorky automobile plant has an extensive service and sales network, which includes more than 230 sales centers and service stations in Russia and CIS, as well as about 1.7 thousand sales outlets for selling automotive components. Starting from 2013, GAZ takes the first place in the rating of dealers’ satisfaction compiled by Ernst & Young.
The new approaches to quality and to the organization of production processes implemented at GAZ, are rolled out throughout the holding company. In 2008, a corporate university was established for the development of modern manufacturing technologies and professional training of employees of the Gorky automobile plant. It developed 600 unique training programs to upgrade the skills of the employees in the most demanded professions. In 2012, jointly with Volkswagen Group Rus, GAZ created a new training center for practical introduction of advanced technologies of the global industry.
GAZ is training modern engineers for industrial enterprises of the country within the framework of the all-Russian program "Robotics", nurturing school and college students to become the future engineering elite for its high-tech plants, including work on promising projects in creating automated unmanned vehicles.
The Gorky automobile plant is the center of GAZ Group integration. The company employs a United Engineering Center and a modular design principle in developing its vehicles, which allows, in the shortest time possible, to create modern models of commercial vehicles for the Russian and export markets.
Vadim Sorokin, GAZ Group President:
- The Gorky automobile plant today is an industrial symbol and a national asset of Russia, 85 years of success. Carefully preserving the accumulated traditions, GAZ looks to the future with confidence, continuing to produce cars that are in great demand all over the country, penetrating new market segments and expanding the geography of sales. The key to the success of the plant is the high professionalism of its team: the core value of GAZ, throughout the entire history of its existence, has been its people - the creators of the history of the Russian automotive industry.