In Russia, car banditry and the return of old Ladas without options

“It is the return of banditry.” Some days ago, The Guardian reported this quote from Eldar Gadzhieva Russian owner of four cars that he rents to Moscow taxis.

Gadzhiev had had the engine stolen from one of his Skodas and he knew it: he put his business in a more than delicate position. “I thought: the repairs will cost me as much as the car”comments to the British newspaper.

Recounting his misadventure on an online forum, the man was bombarded with proposals for repairs and new engines, of course at prohibitive prices: in a country where Western sanctions have dried up all imports, the trade in spare parts, the price of which has multiplied by ten, it goes well, as do the spoils that necessarily precede them.

Within a “great leap back”, the entire Russian automobile sector is therefore in the process of collapsing. New car sales fell 83.5% year-on-yearthe government is forced toloosen standards in an unsuccessful attempt to address the lack of parts.

Mercedes-Benz, VW, Ford, Toyota… Foreign manufacturers have fled the market as factories, like Renault, which was one of the last to quit after the invasion of Ukraine by selling its local assets, in this case the manufacturer of the Lada Avtovaz, for a token handful of starling rupees.

How can we continue to make cars when the many foreign parts they depend on, both high-tech and low-tech, can no longer cross the border?


The lines first had to stop for a few months: Impossible to continue without the missing pieces, simple as that. Then the response from the Russian government and local builders was revives an old Lada clunker, presented as “sanctions-proof”the granta classic.

Although the Russians no longer buy cars, or very few, this one has returned to being manufactured on Avtovaz lines, adapting it to the limitations of the day and taking into account the shortcomings due to sanctions. As a result, the Granta Classic lives up to the second half of its name: initially launched in 2011, it is indeed a “classic”, almost vintage.

Symbol of the autarchy in which the Russian economy has plunged, a symbol also of the great setback suffered by the country and its inhabitantsit is one of the more rustic vehicles powered by a 1990s engine and is now missing ABS, airbags, satellite navigation systems and seat belt pretensioners.

It is a war economy car, which could not be sold on the European market if by some miracle the sanctions were relaxed: it would only respect the pollution regulations enacted in 1996 for the EU.

As The Drive points out, these misadventures of the Russian automobile sector are not exclusive to rolling vehicles. One of the most effective types of sanctions against the entire Russian economy concerns the airline sector.

If Moscow succeeded keep dozens of planes that should have been returned to their European ownersthe country is weaned from spare parts and is already beginning to dismantle some planes to continue flying others.

This situation is not without security problems: China, although diplomatically close to Russia, banned its airspace to Russian Airbus and Boeingand concern for increases the safety of passengers on these planes-Frankenstein all over the world.

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