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MONEY + AMBITION = / CAR

The first year of operation of the Taganrog Automobile Plant, included in the government program to attract investment in the auto industry, almost led to bankruptcy.

Dmitry SCHEGLOV

The process of attracting foreign money to the Russian auto industry was difficult. General Motors spent $ 1.5 million on market research, and so far has limited it. FIAT and Renault have adjusted their plans and are in no hurry with financial injections into the Russian economy.

On the other hand, FPG Doninvest, which owns TagAZ, has invested $ 280 million in the construction of the plant. A significant part of this amount was found in the local budget. The financial and industrial group also received tax and customs benefits of $ 427 and 545 million, respectively. It would seem, here it is!

At the beginning of 1999 (after the crisis!) Mikhail Paramonov, chairman of the board of Doninvest, promised to produce 90 thousand cars in the next 12 months. This number just coincided with the government quota for duty-free transportation of car kits. However, by the end of the year, 9, 000 cars were produced in large-scale assembly technology in pilot production, of which, by the way, two-thirds are the last batch of Daewoo Espero, which are no longer produced in Korea. The conveyor is standing.

And if you earned it? Is it possible, having reduced the price of cars by two to three thousand dollars (with conveyor production), to increase sales by 10 times? Unlikely.

Meanwhile, lenders are demanding a repayment of debts - the business does not keep promises. On October 12, 1999, one of the largest financial scandals of Rostov over the past year ended in the Arbitration Court. Doninvest took over the repayment of debt to Sberbank and the administration of the Rostov region in the amount of more than 300 million rubles. The loan “froze” after the 1998 financial crisis. Providing unprecedented support for the project to create a South Russian car, the Rostov authorities found themselves in a delicate situation: investments, in fact, have been frozen, TagAZ workers are in financial distress and budget funds have not been returned.

Fortunately, out of the 75 enterprises included in the Doninvest financial group, many work profitably. This allows you to keep TagAZ afloat, that is, not to sell. Duty to the Daewoo Motor will be tolerated to a certainty with the new owner of the Korean company. There is evidence that the amount is in the tens of millions of dollars.

Doninvest is optimistic that they will have cars for you. A full-fledged launch of TagAZ - counting on production not lower than the level of profitability (50 thousand cars annually) - is planned for January-February 2000. The strategy for an early recovery is still unknown. The assistance expected from mid-1999 from South Korea did not come. All cars collected during the year were bought at our own expense.

Maybe the Citroen Berlingo will become a lifesaver? Doninvest acquired a batch of these machines to expand its lineup. The car was dubbed duty-free and close in class by the name "Doninvest Orion M" (see ZR, 1999, No. 10). True, without a license - by gentleman's agreement. A hundred “emoks” in the cargo version get to dealers at a price of eight and a half thousand conventional units after affixing “doninvest” insignia.

"Orion M" for all control points fits into the TagAZ conveyor. To change the welding semiautomatic devices, if it comes to this, it will take two weeks and some money. The French delegation, they say, liked the car factory. Local experts consider these machines easier and “smarter” than Korean ones technologically. In general, is everything okay?

Today, the French car is acquiring strategic importance as a way to get new technologies and, possibly, investments. No full-fledged market research was carried out, and according to speculative forecasts of Rostovites, the demand will be 10-15 thousand units annually with a "conveyor" price of 7 and 9 thousand dollars for freight and passenger options, respectively. We hope this time the Rostovites are not mistaken.

Doninvest is still faithful to the principle of independence: the car must be Russian! In Rostov, they intend to purchase components from foreign diversified companies. So far, 10% of the domestic component stipulated by the state license for Orion M, for example, consists of assembly costs, technical fluids and holographic nameplates. Without a doubt, 15% needed for the next year will be overcome without difficulty. So what is next? Domestic units to make subcontractors unprofitable for small volumes of output. In addition, there are problems with technological documentation, without which the manufacture of parts is complicated for us. On its own, the plant must master stamping, production of batteries (2 million per year) and bumpers. Projects are ready, negotiations are underway to equip these sites.

One way or another, the released one must somehow be implemented. Aksai OJSC, TagAZ’s general dealer, introduced external management, in other words, Aksai - bankrupt. Nevertheless, the leadership of the FIG claims that trade is under control. Doninvest's arsenal has a peculiar way of sales promotion - selling on credit with an admixture of playing the lottery.

In this situation, Doninvest is phenomenally awake. Say, a year and a half idle plant went for the future - the workers examined the equipment.