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Lada logo
Current owner AvtoVAZ
Country of origin Russia (previously part of USSR)
Introduced 1970s
Related brands VAZ

Lada is the trademark of AvtoVAZ, a Russian car manufacturer in Tolyatti, Samara Oblast, Russia. All AvtoVAZ vehicles sold currently are of the Lada brand but this has not always been so. Ladas were AvtoVAZ's export vehicles, the same models being sold under the Zhiguli brand on the domestic Soviet market since 1970.

The brandname Lada was borrowed from famous Czech manufacturer of sewing machines in the 1960s

They became extremely popular during later decades in Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly the former Soviet bloc countries where they have become a symbol of city life. From cities like Prague to Havana, Cuba Lada cars are a very common automobile on the urban landscape.


Lada made its name in Western Europe selling the Fiat 124-based VAZ-2101 and its many derivatives as an economy car in large quantities during the 1980s, but later models were less successful.

The common Lada sedan/estate, sometimes known as the Classic in the west (Signet in Canada), was partly based on the 1966 Fiat 124 sedan, and became a successful export car. The keys to its success were: competitive price as an export, reliability, simple DIY-friendly mechanics and unpretentious functionality. Since 1980 over 13.5 million Ladas were badged as 'Rivas' (re-styled), added to 5 million made from 1969 to 1979 (badged as 2101-2107 depending on engine size/interior specs) for a total of over 18.5 million. The car was built under licence in several other countries.

Being exported worldwide in the 1980s and '90s, the Lada was a big earner of foreign hard currency for the hard-pressed Soviet Union, and was also used in barter arrangements in some countries. Over 60% of Lada production was exported, mainly to western countries (the US was the only large market not to have imported Ladas). The rugged design of the Lada Classic, built with heavier-gauge steel bodywork to cope with extreme Siberian climates, poor roads, and few service facilities in many parts of Russia, made high usage, such as 300,000 miles (480,000 km) possible under less extreme operating conditions. Because of their very competitive pricing and ease of service, Ladas became common as police cars, taxis, and a range of public service and civil defence vehicles in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.

In March 2008 Renault purchased a 25% stake in AvtoVAZ in a US$1 billion deal. This is expected to result in new Lada models being manufactured on existing Russian assembly lines and increased output. The remaining 75% of AutoVAZ continues to be owned by the Russian state-owned Rostekhnologia corporation. Lada is now part of the Renault-Nissan-Lada group, which is the world's third-largest automotive group (after General Motors and Toyota).[1] In spite of a flood of western models into the Russian market in recent years, Lada has managed to maintain its dominant market share.

Early 2011 was to be a watershed year for the brand as a whole, with production of the classic Fiat 124-based 2105 and 2107 series models being completely moved from the Togliatti plant to the IzhAvto plant near Izhevsk [2], in order to make space for the company's forthcoming 2116 model.

Current model lineup

LADA Priora

LADA Kalina

  • Lada Priora (VAZ-2110/2111/2112) economy car
    • LADA Priora sedan
    • LADA Priora hatchback
    • LADA Priora wagon
    • LADA Priora Coupe
  • Lada Kalina - low cost supermini car
    • LADA Kalina wagon
    • LADA Kalina Sedan
    • LADA Kalina Hatchback
    • LADA Kalina Sport
  • Lada Samara (VAZ-2108/2109) - economy car
    • LADA Samara Hatchback 3-doors.
    • LADA Samara Hatchback 5-doors.
    • LADA Samara Sedan (VAZ-2109)
  • Lada Riva (VAZ-2104/05/07) - medium-sized family car based on the original Fiat 124 derived platform.
    • LADA Classic 2104 - wagon version of 2105
    • LADA Classic 2105 - base sedan
    • LADA Classic 2107 - executive sedan
  • Lada Niva 4x4 -(VAZ-2121/2123) off-road vehicle
    • LADA 4x4 3-doors.
    • LADA 4x4 5-doors.

Future Models

  • Lada 2116 (VAZ-2116) - medium sized family car - expected release 2011-2012.



Ladas were first imported into Australia in 1984 with the Niva compact 4WD, and in 1988 the Samara three-door hatchback was introduced. The Samara five-door hatchback and four-door sedan later joined the Samara three-door hatch, but would be given different names—the five-door hatchback was called the Lada Cevaro and the four-door sedan was sold as the Lada Sable. The Lada Niva 4WD was also offered as a ute/pickup truck on an extended wheelbase and a two-door soft top of which only 100 were believed to be imported to Australia.

While initial sales were promising, reports of poor quality and reliability issues soon began to take their toll and by 1996 sales had dwindled to under 100 units. It is believed that Ladas had not been imported into Australia since 1994, but it took two years to sell the remaining stock; 1996 was the last year Lada sold vehicles on the Australian market.

The Lada Niva enjoys a small cult following in Australia; it is the Lada model most often seen on Australian roads.


Lada cars started being imported to Brazil in 1990, when the Brazilian president Fernando Collor lifted the ban on car imports. Lada was the first foreign trademark to enter Brazil's car market after Collor's liberalization of 1990. Initially, Lada 2105 (sedan) and 2104 (station wagon) models (badged as Lada Laika) and Lada Niva were very successful models because of their low prices. Between 1990 and 1992, Lada sold more cars than any other importer to Brazil.

Shortly after, the Samara was introduced. The Samara was never successful in Brazil. The Laika and Niva models' popularity began to wane after a few years because of the perceived lack of quality of all Lada car models. The cars were also widely criticized for their poor design. However, the Niva continued to be strong in the off-road market, even having a limited edition exclusively for the Brazilian market (Niva Pantanal). It continued to be sold until 1997. Many of the last Lada Nivas sold in Brazil had diesel engines. Most of the Nivas sold in Brazil remain operational and used cars still command high prices in the used car market. In fact, in Brazil, a 1991 Niva in very good condition can cost as much as R$11,000 or US$5,500, which is far more than the average price in the Brazilian used car market for a car of that year. The normal price for a Lada Niva made in year 1991 or 1992 is about R$6,000 (about US$3,000) in Brazilian used car market. As many as 30,000 Lada cars were sold in Brazil between 1990 and 1997.


LadaCanada started importing the Russian made cars in 1979. The first model was the Lada 2106, with a 1500 cc engine. Later, the Lada Niva, a 1.6L 4x4 Lada, did very well, with over 12,000 sold in Canada in its first year of import. Lada disappeared from Canada after the 1998 model year due to the fact low-cost South Korean automakers Daewoo Motors and Kia Motors arrived in Canada at the time. By the late 2000s, many Lada dealerships and Lada products have mostly disappeared from Canadian streets. There are some Lada vehicles that are still in use in Canada. The Canadian vehicle market is now mostly dominated by the major American, German, Japanese, and Korean car manufacturers.

Costa Rica

Lada cars started being imported to Costa Rica in the late seventies and became very popular in the eighties as one of the few new cars that the middle class could afford due to its low cost. The models included the Niva, 2104 and Samara among others. There are still a few Ladas in circulation nowadays, although it is considered a rare sighting.


Lada 112 "Sport" (left) in Quito, Ecuador

Lada cars appeared in Ecuador during the 1970s. The imports stopped in the mid 1990s. During 1999 AvtoVAZ associated with the local factory AYMESA to produce the Lada Niva 4x4 1.7i[3]. In 2000, the first units appeared on the market. This agreement ended in 2004 when car imports began again.[4]

By 2007 other car models were also being imported: Lada 110, Lada 111, Lada 112, Lada Kalina (sedan), Lada Niva 2121 (3-doors), Lada Niva 2131 (5-doors) and Lada 2107 nicknamed "Clasico" (Classic).

During 2008 the imports of most of the models decreased, and in some cases, stopped. Only Lada 2121 and Lada 2131 continued to be imported during 2009.

As of 2010, all the imports have stopped again. However, the importation and commercialization of spare parts for all the models of vehicles of this brand continues at its normal rate.

There are very few units of old models, like the Lada 2101, that are still functioning.


Lada cars came to Finland in 1971. They were among the most sold cars in Finland for many years in 1970s but their share has declined and in 2004 Lada cars were in position 26th of all new registered cars. For the moment Lada cars are not sold in Finland.[5]

Since 1990s there has been organized meetings of drivers of old Lada models. In 2008 Lada drivers made a trip to Lada factory in Russia with their cars.


An agreement between Jamaica and the USSR in the early 1980s saw large numbers of Ladas imported under a barter arrangement in exchange for bauxite ore.[6] Ladas became popular as taxis because of their rugged simplicity, replacing the ubiquitous, but dated, Morris Oxford.

New Zealand

In the 1980s Lada cars were popular. Meat, dairy and fertiliser exports to Russia were wholly or partly paid for in contra-deals such as imports of Belarus tractors, Stolichnaya vodka and Lada cars. As a result the New Zealand Dairy Board were distributors for Lada vehicles.[7]


AutoVAZ began exporting Lada cars to Portugal in 1986. On December 2001, it was announced that Lada Portugal would cease on April 2002. On April 2002, Lada disappeared from the car market.


The Lada Samara, Riva and Niva were introduced in Singapore for a brief period of time in the early 1990s. They proved to be extremely impractical in a country where cars above three years of age have to be inspected yearly, because of their unreliability especially in the tropical climate[citation needed]. Coupled with the Certificate of Entitlement system, which meant that a hefty sum needs to be paid after 10 years should car owners wish to continue driving their cars, Lada had virtually no market and pulled out quickly. There are few, if any Lada cars left, on Singapore roads.

Trinidad and Tobago

From 1995 until 2001, there was a fairly successful attempt at marketing Lada Riva saloons, estates, Nivas and Samaras in Trinidad and Tobago. Using right hand drive kits from the defunct Lada UK , these were sold as budget transportation as at one time the Riva 1.5 SE saloon was the cheapest new car available. Trinidadian dealer Petrogas Ltd. marketed the Riva as a family runabout and the Niva as a lifestyle 4x4. Both were reasonably well equipped and retailed for between US$8,000.00-$15,000.00. Rust, reliability issues and increasing competition from grey market Japanese imports soon forced Ladas off the market. The Samara was introduced in 2000 as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the brand. It failed and the last Samaras were sold as unfinished kits in 2003.


Lada made an entry into the Turkish Market in the late 1980s. Most of the sales were of Samara (100,000 units), which was marketed with durability, cheap price, and relatively low fuel consumption. Lada Niva also made a presence in the 4x4 market. New models like 2110 are still being sold in Turkey, though not with the success met by Samara.


Both the Lada Riva and Niva are popular amongst the Egyptian working class. The Riva sedan serves as one of Egypt's most popular make of taxi cab and is a fixture in virtually every city of Egypt.

United Kingdom and Ireland

AvtoVAZ began exporting cars to the UK and Ireland in 1974 using the brand name Lada. The Fiat 124-based range was known for its outdated technology, poor fuel economy and tank-like roadholding, but it gained popularity thanks to its ruggedness, spacious interior, massive boot and low price, a particular consideration during the recession of the 1980s. The later Riva version had practical spring-loaded stainless steel bumpers. The Lada particularly appealed to drivers who did low mileages, making the poor fuel economy less of an issue.

After introduction of the Riva range to the UK in 1983, sales through the 1980s were particularly strong, with UK and Ireland sales peaking in 1988 at 33,000 units (nearly 2% of UK car sales). A memorable advert for the Riva was produced featuring comedy duo Cannon & Ball. AvtoVAZ built up a network of UK and Ireland Lada dealers through its marketing associate, Satra Motors. Some of the dealerships were owned outright and some were agencies. The Satra-owned dealerships were all sold off in 1987 and 1988.

Lada was a victim of the political and economic problems of Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was not possible to invest adequately in product and service development. By the 1990s the age of the basic Riva design was showing more than ever. Not even prices starting below £5,000 were enough to disguise the 1966 vintage of the design. By 1994, annual sales of the Lada range had fallen to just over 9,000 - less than a third of the peak figures attained six years earlier.[8]

UK & Ireland sales dwindled to 8,000 units in 1996, the last full year in which Lada cars were marketed in the UK & Ireland. During this period many Lada dealers either went out of business or switched to other makes of car. Confronted with the need to meet new 1992 EU emission control requirements, Lada tried to continue to use a carburettor with an exhaust catalyst instead of the nearly universally used electronic fuel injection. Three years later at their first emissions MOT test they failed very badly, needing new expensive catalysts: over-fuelling had destroyed the catalysts. This catastrophe, along with a shortage of certain imported components and increased competition from Daewoo and Proton in the 1990s, led AvtoVAZ to withdraw from the UK, Ireland and most other western European markets. Lada cars maintained a presence in a number of African, Caribbean and Latin American markets.

From 1979 Lada produced the Niva four-wheel drive. It had monocoque construction, which was innovative in the 4x4 market where a heavy separate chassis was the norm. It competed well with Japanese rivals like the Suzuki SJ/Samurai and Daihatsu Fourtrak in terms of practicality and stability, and above all its off-road ability. Also, the Niva was significantly cheaper than its rivals. This was one area where Lada achieved some market success in the 1990s. The Niva was adopted by several British police forces and attracted something of a cult following within the 4x4 enthusiast fraternity in the UK and elsewhere. Niva sales would have benefitted from a diesel engine option, but it was never offered in the UK. After the withdrawal of Lada from the UK & Ireland in 1997, several dealers continued to acquire Nivas by special import for sale in the UK. These required some local modification of the new General Motors-supplied engines in order to meet emission control regulations current in the UK. A few Lada enthusiasts make the trip to Tallinn where new, right-hand-drive Ladas (made for the West African market) can be bought for as little as US$2,500.

Lada 1600

Lada's first attempt at a modern car came with the Samara hatchback in 1984 (launched in the UK in November 1987), which made use of a completely new mechanical design.

In 1997 the Lada range was withdrawn from Britain and most other European markets, although it continued to be very successful in Russia. The decision was announced on 4 July 1997, by which time more than 100,000 of the 350,000 or so Lada cars sold in Britain were still on the road, with more than 1,000 still in stock. Just over 5,000 Lada cars were sold in Britain during 1997. By this time, the budget market was growing with more modern designs from the likes of Daewoo, Hyundai, Kia and Proton.[9]

Another attempt at a modern car came in 1996 with the 2110, similar in size to a Ford Mondeo or Opel Vectra. This model was never sold in the UK or Ireland. It looked and was far more modern than the rest of the Lada range, but proved disastrously unreliable in its early years, causing the company, already in financial difficulty, to spend millions ironing out the many faults which had been reported.

After Lada (UK) ceased operations in 1997, the remains of the British network of Lada dealers were serviced by Lada (France). Ladas rapidly disappeared from British roads. They had minimal second-hand value in the UK and a re-export market for Russia developed: many UK- and Irish-registered Ladas were sold back to Russia (especially by Russian trawlermen), to be stripped for spare parts or to be sold to Russian buyers who appreciated the cars built to better export specification than cars sold on the Russian market. Many Ladas returned to Russia by ship through Latvia and Lithuania where enterprising mechanics changed the right hand drive to the left hand drive for about USD 500-600 and then shipped them back to Russia for second-hand resale.

There have been several attempts to reintroduce Ladas to the UK. In May 2010, the Lada Niva became available again, through an independent importer. Aimed at the agricultural market, three models are available (all LHD), the 3-door 4-seat hatchback at £10,000, a 2-seat commercial van, £8000 and a 2-door, 4-seat pickup for £12,000. All meet the current UK Vehicle Certification Agency standards. Engine options are restricted to a 1.7 litre petrol engine, with or without LPG conversion.[10]


In 2008 Lada entered the World Touring Car Championship, raced and developed by Russian Bears Motorsport, although badged as a factory team. The team raced the Lada 110 in the 2008 season, but ran a trio of Lada Prioras in the 2009 WTCC. The team scored their first championship points at Imola with renowned BTCC two-time champion James Thompson.


Lada sponsored Aldershot Football Club of the English Football League for two seasons leading up their bankruptcy in 1992. Lada also sponsored Colo Colo (Chile) during their championship season in 1991.

Lada are currently major sponsors of the Renault F1 Team, competing in the 2011 F1 World Championship.

Lada are also currently a major sponsor of the Dams GP2 Team, competing in the 2010 GP2 World Championship.

Image gallery

See also


  1. "Renault Takes Stake In Lada" in The Auto Writer, March 3, 2008. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
  2. "The cheapest Russian car was removed from production". Autostat. Retrieved on 14/02/2011.
  3. "ECUADOR FIRMA CONVENIO PARA ENSAMBLAR AUTOMOVILES LADA". Diario Hoy, Ecuador. Retrieved on 20 March 2011.
  4. "Aymesa cierra temporalmente". Diario Hoy, Ecuador. Retrieved on 20 March 2011.
  5. "Lada Suomi". Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  6. "Jamaica Economy External Trade - Flags, Maps, Economy, Section, Economy, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System". Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  7. New Zealand and the Soviet Union, 1950-1991: A Brittle Relationship, April 1, 2005. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  8. [1]
  9. Peter Rogers. "Lada Owners Club of GB UK Lada history". Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
  10. David Cousins (2010-07-16). "Farmers Weekly". Retrieved on 2010-11-13.

External links

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