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Why can't Russia make a good car?

Release time:

2021-07-14 16:13

As a country known as a "combat nation", most people's impression of Russia will basically not escape objective descriptions such as "military power", "oil power", "world's largest in terms of land area" and so on. But, as a car fan, do you know that Russia, as a military power that can develop rockets, nuclear bombs, and fifth-generation fighter jets, can't make a "good car"?

USSR GAZ military truck

In fact, Russian cars are not without a sense of existence in history, because Russia’s “predecessor” the Soviet Union was an out-and-out superpower. It was also the only one in the world that could compete with the United States before the 1990s. Wrist-wrist country. So in the early days, the Soviet automobile industry was actually very developed. During World War II, the GAZ trucks of the former Soviet Union were used as military vehicles, and they helped the former Soviet Union to establish a magnificent military exploit in the European battlefield at that time.

Volga

In addition to GAZ trucks, the former Soviet Union government also launched a car brand called "Volga" in 1956, which focuses on the high-end market and is mainly used for leaders' travel. In communist regions such as Eastern Europe and East Asia at that time, the Volga car was a symbol of luxury and status.

Liberation CA10

With the help of the former Soviet Union’s big brother’s car-making plant, equipment, and technology, the first car of New China, the Jiefang CA10, officially rolled off the assembly line on July 13, 1956, and the prototype of this car was mentioned above. Gaz 150 truck passing by. As for the main high-end Volga cars, even the big brother of the Soviet Union said that the new China, which was still the socialist "little brother" at the time, naturally recognized it very much, so at that time most of the Chinese leaders traveled by Volga. Even the Hongqi CA71 sedan that we later launched was actually designed to imitate Volga.

Lada

In addition to GAZ and Volga, the most well-known Soviet car brand must of course be Lada. Lada Motors is actually a brand created by the Soviet Union in the 1960s when the Italian Fiat car technology was introduced. Unlike GAZ, which focuses on military off-roading and Volga, which focuses on high-end luxury, Lada Motors is mainly for the wider family car market. Like Volkswagen's positioning in Germany when it was born (Volkswagen literally translates as "people's car"), it is a travel tool that benefits the people.

National borders before the collapse of the Soviet Union

In addition to being widely recognized in Eastern Europe and East Asia, the automobile industry in the Soviet era also achieved good sales even in Western Europe. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union's automobile production had reached the third level in the world (after the United States and Japan).

Lada Samara

Especially in France, perhaps because Germany and France were hostile during World War II, the French did not recognize German cars, but preferred Soviet products. Just like in the 1980s, Volkswagen Polo and Lada Samara entered the French market at the same time. Lada is more expensive, but it has won more French people's love.

The French people’s willingness to spend more money on Russian radhas directly exceeded the public’s expectations. The anxious public produced a fancy poster in which more than ten people were crowded inside and outside of a Polo car. Reflects the super practicality of Polo. However, this "Indian-style" propaganda method is of no use to the proud French. After all, the price advantage of several thousand francs is not worth mentioning in the face of national stance.

However, although the Soviet cars at the time looked very good and the sales expansion went smoothly, there was a fatal shortcoming in Soviet cars from the very beginning, that is, most of the technology of Soviet cars originated from abroad, and there was almost nothing. Self-developed technology. In fact, not only cars, but even oil extraction and other fields, the Soviet Union needed to rely on spending money to buy foreign technology to keep it functioning. Therefore, the Soviet Union was like a nouveau riche, relying on the huge profits brought about by the rich domestic oil resources to "buy, buy, and buy" all over the world, but ignored the importance of independent technology.

At this moment, the United States relentlessly pulled the Soviet Union back from its dream of a powerful automobile power back to reality...

As the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the 1980s, Reagan, then the President of the United States, began to "disgust" the Soviet Union from various fields in order to suppress the arrogance of the Soviet Union. Considering that nearly 50% of the Soviet Union's technology was purchased from Western countries at that time, in 1981, the United States directly cut off the path for the United States and Western European countries to export high-tech to the Soviet Union.

Left: Soviet President Gorbachev / Right: US President Reagan

This "sorrow operation" by the United States directly caught the Soviet Union by surprise. With the continuous increase in technology supply restrictions, until 1986, the Soviet Union could no longer buy any industrial technology, including military technology, from the United States and other Western countries. As a result, the Soviet Union's most proud military technology has gradually fallen behind the times, and the national economy has also experienced a serious decline.

This is not the end. In order to make the Soviet Union's national strength and economy worse, the United States has also fostered the oil industry of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, and by continuously lowering oil prices, it has severely hit the Soviet Union's oil exports. At this time, coupled with the just-mentioned cut-off of the supply of oil mining equipment in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union's oil revenue plummeted, and foreign exchange reserves also plunged.

In such a difficult situation in the Soviet Union, the United States continued to increase its offensive and released false news about the launch of "Star Wars", stating that it would directly deploy sci-fi weapons such as missiles, laser beams, and particle beams in outer space and high altitudes. Hierarchical global defense and strike system. As soon as the news came out, Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union, was frightened. He met with Reagan several times and hoped that he would abandon the "Star Wars" plan. Seeing that this kid believed it to be true, Reagan simply used his plan and deliberately expressed anger, making Gorbachev even more convinced that the United States would resolutely implement the Star Wars plan.

In the face of the crisis of national sovereignty, the leaders of the Soviet Union instantly fell into an extremely nervous mood, and the tension would make mistakes. In order to ensure their military strength, they decided to abandon the light industry and civilian fields, and put all their energy and financial resources. Concentrated in the military industry. And this decision also caused the Soviet Union's annual military expenditure to soar to 20% of GDP at that time! At this time, the United States, as a competitor, was only about 5%.

The Soviet automobile industry naturally stagnated when it was unable to allocate any resources. The Soviet Union is stagnant, and other countries on the planet are not idle. The auto industry in the capitalist countries of Western Europe is developing rapidly, and even the cars in Japan and South Korea have begun to improve. Under such circumstances, the offshore market that once belonged to the old Soviet Lada was quickly eroded by its opponents, until it completely lost its overseas competitiveness.

 The Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 independent member states

When the time came to the end of 1991, Gorbachev announced his resignation as president and handed over power to Yeltsin. The internal collapse of the Soviet Union was declared disintegrated, and the Cold War officially ended. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, 15 member states regained their independence. Russia, the country with the largest territory, inherited most of the Soviet Union's military power.

 Left: Gorbachev / Right: Yeltsin

After re-independence, Russia inherited most of the military power belonging to the Soviet Union. In order to restore its vitality, Russia began to attach importance to the civilian field. Therefore, the Russian government led by Yeltsin decided to start vigorously encouraging the development of automobiles! But whoever thinks, this decision has completely pushed the Russian automobile industry into the abyss...

It stands to reason that state encouragement is certainly beneficial to the auto industry, but Russia’s way of encouraging the auto industry is very reckless. Their thinking at the time was that since the level of domestic cars is so backward, we simply let go of the restrictions on imported cars, and even allow overseas brands to build factories in Russia, so that we will not be able to drive the development of our own car industry. ?

Thus, this plan has been implemented. And the Russian people who know the goods suddenly realized that the quality of foreign cars is so good! The motivation is so strong! The money I have worked so hard to save can finally not be spent on the old domestic industrial waste in the 1970s and 1980s! Subsequently, luxury brands such as BBA and Rolls-Royce from Europe quickly occupied the wealthy circle in Russia, while Korean brands such as Kia and Hyundai, which achieved localization, also quickly played their cost-effective advantages and occupied the civilian family car market. In the end, the Russian car brand was squeezed in front and back, and there was almost no room for survival. At this time, the Russian government, with hindsight, discovered that it would not be beneficial to blindly implement the auto open policy, so it began to drastically increase the tariffs on imported cars to make imported cars lose their domestic competitiveness.

In the 21st century, Putin took over Yeltsin as the president of Russia. After taking office, he was committed to reviving the status of the Russian superpower. While maintaining a strong military, he also paid more attention to Russia's economic development and international environment. Under Putin's leadership, Russia's economy began to recover, and even joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012.

Russia, which is more open and internationalized, has also successfully attracted international capital. Since 2008, the parent company of Lada has been gradually acquired by the French Renault Group with 67.61% of the shares... With the French holding, Lada also took advantage of the big tree of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and justifiably used some technologies eliminated by Renault and Dacia (low-end brands under Nissan).. .... You must know that these technologies have fallen behind for the first-tier automobile markets in Europe, China, and the United States, but they are just right for Russia, where the independent automobile industry is not developed. After all, their domestic industrial support and industrial The processing level is not so high.

Therefore, the development momentum of Lada cars in Russia in recent years is still good. Among the top 10 models sold in Russia in 2020, three models are from Lada, and the first and second places are all Lada brand cars. However, today's Lada cars have completely embarked on the cheap route, relying on cheap prices and the Russian people's feelings for the Lada brand to survive in the country. For example, last year's Russian sales champion Lada Granta, its price was only about 47,000 yuan, only half the price of our domestic sales champion Nissan Sylphy.

In summary, we have already understood why the Soviet era and why the Russian automobile industry did not develop. Now, what are the problems that restrict the turnaround of the Russian auto industry? We believe that there are two points. First, Russia's own economy is not strong enough. In 2020, its GDP is only 1.474 trillion US dollars, which is only one-tenth of China's. At the same time, limited resources must first guarantee military strength. After all, a strong military can defend national sovereignty. The second is that the Russian auto market is not as big as China. Although Russia has the largest land area in the world, it has a population of less than 150 million. The annual car sales are about 1.7 million, only one-seventeenth of China's! The modest market demand, coupled with the already well-established foreign auto industry, even the local Lada brand can continue to survive under the care of Renault-Nissan, and naturally there is little motivation to promote the development of the independent auto industry.

Through the Russian automobile industry, it is not difficult to see that a country’s military strength and its industrial strength in the civilian field are not necessarily completely related. However, countries with developed civilian industries generally do not have poor military strength. At this time, as a Chinese, I can hardly not sigh at the rapid development of the motherland. Not only the military strength is in the forefront of the world, but the industrial level in the civilian field is also quite strong, especially the domestically-produced cars, which have become more and more equipped with joint venture cars The ability to break the wrist, this is undoubtedly the thing that a Chinese car fan wants to see most!

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