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"BEARS" GROWING IN BEARS

Over the year, the fate of a new family of microcars has become more definite.

Elena WARSAW

A year ago (ZR, 1999, No. 8), this idea was born - to create a family of microcars the size of the Oka and smaller. Based on a frame structure, with a modular plastic body, with various configuration options with the participation of many assembly plants. All this, of course, looked beautiful, but it was very unrealistic, despite the fact that the authors of the idea did not resemble the creators of the chimeras in any way - respectable people from AFM holding, the former ministry of automobile and agricultural engineering.

The editors decided to test the plan on motorists. In response to the publication, many letters arrived, mainly supporting the controversial project. There were even people who claimed that they were the true creators of the concept, that their modular little car had appeared earlier and was called almost the same - “Misha”.

Nevertheless, one must remain on the earth, and not soar in the clouds. Existing car factories have difficulty working. Most of them complain about a lack of money, problems with suppliers, and rising prices among metallurgists and power engineers. AvtoVAZ, for example, has no way to launch a new Niva into the series, after which it is already the turn of buyers. And to put on the conveyor "Kalina" Togliatti need a billion dollars!

Somehow, in these circumstances, to put it mildly, the proposals to create a completely new model of the car, to organize its production from scratch sound frivolously …

It seemed like a year ago, and then the story about the "bears" was forgotten, like a children's fairy tale. And so…

TALE AND BE

- In a nutshell, then during this time we moved from the concept to the manufacture of prototypes, by the way, the little car has noticeably grown to the size of the Tavria. 85% of the suppliers of components were identified, found a plant ready to produce frames, concluded an agreement with several regions on participation in the project, prepared its economic feasibility, ”said Nikolai Volosov, CEO of AFM Holding.

It turns out that the idea has not died, the tale of bears continues?

However, the decision to increase the size of the car is quite vital. The concept was with the Oka engine, but the volume of production of this machine is growing, and there is no reason to rely on the motors being enough for the Bear too.

But it turned out that there is a manufacturer of quite suitable power units - the Ukrainian MeMZ. The Koreans brought the production at this plant to an acceptable level, and ZAZ, the main consumer of Melitopol products, barely stands on its feet. And motor builders are happy to supply MeMZ-245 for Mishka. So I had to expand the car under this engine by 130 mm, well, at the same time and extend it by 100 mm.

Here it is, the basis of the concept: to create a new machine based on existing components. This will reduce the cost of the project and make its implementation real. The whole family will need, according to the calculations of the AFM holding, $ 700-800 million. But they will have to invest not only in one investor, but in hundreds, in hundreds of enterprises. And the amount for each individual will not be so significant.

Agreements were concluded with the administrations of Smolensk, Tambov, Kaluga regions and Mordovia. There, enterprises participating in the project will be exempted from paying taxes to local budgets - this is it, the source of investments.

In the regions, assembly plants with a capacity of 5-10 thousand cars per year will be created. Their cost (even the total!) Is not comparable with the price of building traditional ones - about $ 100 million. No need for expensive dies, presses, welding and painting - the body modules are plastic and there is already an agreement with plastic manufacturers.

In a word, business is moving and is no longer seeming hopeless. The “bears” show real traits.

DIESEL, GAS, ELECTRIC …

However, there is precisely certainty in the features of the new family of cars. Rather, there are so many options for both the body and engines that it is easy to get confused. For example, GAZ JSC was included in the project (they believed ?? !!), announcing a two-cylinder power unit for Mishka in the Steyr diesel production program. Capacities are already being created for a compact diesel engine with a good resource and low fuel consumption.

We decided to take advantage of the frame structure and make a dual-fuel (gas-petrol) car, providing a place for a gas bottle behind the rear seat. The Moscow government participating in the project ordered an electric car … So the engines of the family will be different (by the way, they don’t refuse the VAZ two-cylinder). Wheel formulas too: both 2x4 and 4x4. The body is generally open to imagination: a station wagon, a pickup truck, a convertible, and a van … that you can think of by varying the plastic parts!

The authors of the project want to change the psychology of sales: go from the consumer’s order. What kind of car does he want, such a one he will be assembled in a couple of days. That's what traffic police will only say when registering such a variety of models, moreover, capable of changing at the will of the owner? Actually, negotiations are already underway with the traffic safety inspectorate.

A WAITED FOR THREE YEARS WAIT?

Stop! Is idealism contagious? Suddenly you find yourself starting to talk about the "Bear" as a reality. And he even has a name and that is working. Then, most likely, there will be another. And at the same time, the heads of the regions, large factories, NAMI are participating in the project of the Ministry of Economy, …

By the way, it is in US that they conduct full-scale tests of the metal frame, make prototypes. A family of prototypes of updated “bears” will be presented at the Moscow Motor Show this year.

But running ahead is probably not worth it. The authors of the project believe that work on it should go simultaneously in two directions - the creation of a car and the organization of production. Next year they plan to test and certify prototypes. And already in 2002 - the beginning of mass production. Well, the wait is not long. In just a couple of years, we will find out who was right - skeptics who consider the idea of ​​creating the Bear to be impossible, or romantics who are ready to believe in a miracle …

FORECAST 2005

The program “Development of the Russian automotive industry for the period up to 2005” provides a forecast for the development of the car park and market in Russia, presented by the Ministry of Economy of the Russian Federation.

BUSES. According to experts, in 2005 at least 520 thousand buses of various classes will be in operation, including 130–140 thousand public buses. Sales volumes will amount to 65 thousand units. per year (import - up to 16%). Export deliveries of buses will not exceed 3 thousand units.

TRUCKS. Sales of trucks in 2005 reached approximately 240 thousand units. (imported up to 24 thousand), and the sale of cars with a carrying capacity of up to 2 tons is estimated at 148 thousand. In total, about 4.5 million trucks will be operated in Russia by this period. Export deliveries of trucks are expected in the amount of about 20 thousand units.

CARE. Possible 2005 sales of passenger cars in the domestic market of Russia will amount to about 2 million units. In total, there will be 26 million in operation. Deliveries on imports (new and used cars) by 2005 are expected to be in the range of 600-700 thousand units. (in 1999, according to the State Customs Committee of Russia - 150 thousand units). Deliveries of Russian passenger cars for export in 2005 are expected in the amount of up to 200 thousand units. (in 1999 - 70 thousand).

Given the development of passenger car production, the structure of the Russian market can be predicted by 2005:

- Class A (type "Oka") - 4.9% and B (type "Tavria") - 13.6%. This niche will be provided by its own Russian production;

- class C (VAZ type) - 33.3%. Taking into account the joint ventures (Daewoo, KIA, Renault, FIAT, etc.), our market will be able to provide 80% of our own production, the remaining 20% ​​will come from imports;

- class D (type "Moskvich") - 23.4%. It will be provided by domestic cars and foreign cars of Russian assembly - such as the Opel Vectra and Renault Megane. Import - up to 60%;

- Class E (of the Volga type) - 10.2%, and 55-60% of this class will be produced domestically, mainly at GAZ. The rest is foreign cars such as Mercedes, BMW, Volvo;