Putin is apparently keen that the company, whose VAZ cars are better known as Ladas outside their native Russia, should not go down the same mass-redundancy road as many of the world’s carmakers. ‘AvtoVAZ has not fired workers en masse. That is an expensive feat. General Motors has fired 34,000’ an entirely black-clad Putin told workers as he visited the factory in Togliatti, in the country’s industrial south west. Maybe not, but then a Lada is probably one of the few cars in the world less desirable than GM’s gas guzzling SUVs at present.
But the last thing that the Russian PM needs right now is the kind of social unrest that large-scale job losses could create. The Russian carmarket was all set to become one of the fastest growing in the world until the recession arrived. Now AvtoVAZ has been hit at least as hard as any rival by the slump in demand, and has had to halt production as sales plummet and unsold models accumulate. So Putin has reportedly ordered the disbursement of up to 33bn Roubles ($1bn) to keep the workers in their jobs - the kind of state bail outs that have only been ejoyed in the decadent west until now. These days the Russians have to import their socialism from the USA..
Shares in the firm, in which Renault owns a 25% stake, rallied on the news, up more than 28%.
As those of a certain age will recall, the Lada name in the UK was made in the 70s and 80s, when it adorned the bonnets of thinly-disguised superannuated Fiat models sold at knockdown prices to the terminally price-aware.
Build quality and reliability wasn’t all it might have been, and an entire subculture developed aimed at taking the mickey out of both the vehicles and those thrifty and individuals who chose to drive them. As a reminder of what those thick-skinned owners had to put up with, we’ve recycled a few of our favourite Lada jokes for your enjoyment. Here goes:
How do you double the value of Lada? Fill it with petrol.
What do you call a convertible Lada? A skip.
Why do Lada’s have heated rear windows? To keep your hands warm while you push them.
A man goes into Halfords and says ‘I’d like a hubcap for my Lada’. The assistant replies ‘Sounds like a fair swap to me’.
Why is a Lada like a bathtub? You wouldn’t want to be seen getting out of either of them in public.
What do you call a Lada at the top of a hill? A miracle.
What’s on the last page of the Lada owners manual? The bus timetable.