Reporting "Asre Khodro",In common with many Russian companies, UAZ (Ulyanovsk Avtomobilny Zavod) is looking to lever opportunities created by the ruble's travails, although the currency has enjoyed something of a rebound recently despite continued uncertainty surrounding oil prices.
"Our main objective is to supply around 30% of our output abroad – it would be around 20,000 [vehicles]," said UAZ export sales director, Andrey Dorofeev at the recent Russian Automotive Forum organised by Adam Smith Conferences in Moscow. "Kazakhstan is our number one country, then Ukraine and Belarus, [although] supplies to Ukraine dropped to almost zero.
"China is something we discovered last year. We have sold around 500 vehicles and this is just the beginning. South East Asia is an emerging market [and] we estimate as the capacity of this market [to be] around 100,000 vehicles – we can supply to this market.
"We can [also] supply our vehicles to countries such as Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. We have one assembly line in Ulyanovsk [where] we produce 50,000-60,000 per year – we are dwarves in the automotive world."
Iran remains a destination many eye as a major future market with vast pent-up demand and despite a more hawkish line adopted by the President Trump in the US, Western and Russian manufacturers as well as suppliers are beating a path to Tehran's door.
"We have a partner [in Iran] with whom we signed a distribution agreement," added Dorofeev. "We will start sales of our ready-assembled vehicles and from 2018 we are going to assembly vehicles there locally."
Other markets of interest include Egypt, where UAZ has had a presence historically, while the manufacturer is also starting a joint venture in Vietnam with a local partner to import vehicles, followed by components.
Products in the UAZ stable include the off-road Hunter, Pickup, Patriot and a range of commercial vehicles in segments such as buses, trucks and vans.