Vladimir Putin tested the new car and shared his impressions with journalists.
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Question: Mr President, what is your verdict on the car?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Not a verdict. Why a verdict? A verdict is made in court.
Question: So it is an acquittal?
Vladimir Putin: Was it on trial? It’s an excellent car, very good, easy to operate. There is a manual transmission, a mixed transmission, and an automatic transmission. It’s very good. I liked it. Easy to switch, and it does it automatically when you move uphill. We were going up a mountain, the climb is quite difficult, at a steep angle, and the transmission switches on its own and works well. It runs very smoothly.
Question: How does it compare to the Kalina Sport?
Vladimir Putin: It has been a long time since I have driven a Kalina. The Kalina is a good car, I must say, I really liked it when I drove it. This one is a little bigger, I think, a good, stable car. I think it is nevertheless a slightly different class.
Question: What was your speed?
Vladimir Putin: It’s a winding road, so the limit is 30 to 50 kilometres per hour. I will be honest, we did go a little bit faster.
Question: Are the prejudices against domestic cars already outdated? And please allow me to follow up: in light of the crisis, some foreign corporations are leaving the market. Is this a good opportunity for Russian cars to take over the market?
Vladimir Putin: Of course, a very good one.
It’s not about the crisis, it’s a matter of the difference in exchange rates – for the national currency and for foreign currencies compared to the ruble. These are absolute competitive advantages that our carmakers must certainly use, not just to conquer their own market, but to advance in the foreign markets as well.
I was just talking to Mr Andersson and they are already planning sales in those regions of the world, in those nations, where people are familiar with Lada: Eastern Europe, some nations in the Middle East and Latin America. I think it will work, and work well.
The price to quality ratio, I think, is absolute, a global competitive advantage. I am absolutely confident that the quality is up to the global standards. And as Mr Andersson said, localisation is at 70%: some of the parts are still supplied from abroad, but for the most part, it’s not a bad thing. Right now, everything in the global car industry is based on cooperation and the Lada is following the same path. But 70% of localisation in Russia is a very good indicator.
He was just saying that certain car body parts and some other components arrive from, for example, the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works which, I know, has made timely investments of over a billion euro, or a billion dollars (I may be mistaken), into developing its production, creating an absolutely modern production line and is now entering the global markets with its products. And it will certainly develop the domestic market, there are certain advantages in this pertaining not only to prices and logistics but also the fact that the company does not need to incur any extra costs because of the need to use additional storage facilities for these products before they get to the assembly line; this reduces expenditures and ultimately reduces the price.
Question: I’m certain you also discussed other support measures. What were they?
Vladimir Putin: No, we did not discuss this. We talked about other cars from the Lada corporation. I asked about the Niva, whether they plan to develop the Niva. I was told that yes, the Niva will be developed and the company already has certain plans.
Let’s wish the company and its workers good luck. I am certain that the workers themselves – the engineers working there – are not only happy, but can truly feel proud about the new product. I congratulate Russia’s auto enthusiasts on the arrival of the new Lada car.
Question: Mr President, do you have many Ladas or other Russian-made cars in your motor fleet?
Vladimir Putin: I own an old GAZ-21 Volga and a Niva.
Question: What about the colour?
Vladimir Putin: We did not choose the colour, we chose the transmission. This car has a mixed transmission: it can work in manual or automatic mode. I chose this version to see how both work. They work very well.
Question: Did it start on the first try?
Vladimir Putin: Of course!