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UAZ (УАЗ) (Russian: Ульяновский Автомобильный Завод, romanized: Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, lit. 'Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant') is an automobile manufacturer based in Ulyanovsk, Russia, which manufactures off-road vehicles, buses and trucks. It has been part of the Sollers automotive group since 2000.
UAZ is best known for the UAZ-469 utility vehicle, which has seen wide use as a military vehicle in the Eastern bloc and around the world. The UAZ factory started production in 1941 as part of the Soviet war effort. 51,706 UAZ vehicles were produced in 2016.
The Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant was founded in 1941 as a direct result of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In response to this threat, the government of Joseph Stalin ordered the evacuation of strategically crucial industrial centers to the East. By October 1941, the rapid German drive to Moscow, triggered the decision to relocate the Moscow automotive manufacturer ZIS to the Volga town of Ulyanovsk. The town, already a nascent industrial center with a sufficiently developed infrastructure and a good supply of skilled workers, would be an ideal location for the reconstituted factory. It was also safely out of reach of the German army. At that time of its founding, the plant was considered a subsidiary of ZIS. By 1942, the plant began production of artillery shells and automobiles. The first vehicle produced at the plant was the ZIS-5 three-ton truck.
In 1943, when the prospect of a German victory had become far less likely, it was decided the relocated plant would remain in Ulyanovsk and be separated administratively from ZIS, which would be rebuilt in Moscow from scratch. This was in line with the Soviet post-war policy regarding various relocated industrial operations. It was considered more efficient to leave the newly built plants as is, while the original plants, provided they survived the war were outfitted anew, frequently with captured German machinery. At the end of 1944, the production of the ZIS-5 was transferred to The Ural Automotive Plant in Miass, while the Ulyanovsk plant began producing the smaller GAZ-AA in 1947. UAZ developed a prototype 1.5-tonne truck in 1948, using the ubiquitous 50 hp (37 kW; 51 PS) 2,112 cc (129 cu in) inline four of the Pobeda; this, the UAZ-300, was never built, due to a lack of production capacity. In 1954, production was expanded to include the GAZ-69, and the first batches were assembled from GAZ parts. Two years later, the factory was not just assembling GAZ-69s from parts delivered elsewhere, but manufacturing them in their entirety.
The connection with GAZ led UAZ to be the top Soviet manufacturer of four-wheel drive vehicles.
In 2012, the Patriot and the Pickup received a new engine, ZMZ Euro-4 with European on-board diagnostics, which became the first Russian diesel engine to meet Euro-4 Standards. 2013 was the banner year for UAZ, with export sales increasing by 37% since 2012. The next year the sales of the Patriot rose by 10%, and the company was visited by Premier Dmitry Medvedev.
During a test drive in 2014, a UAZ Patriot crossed winter roads and frozen tundra of the Sakha Republic and reached one of the northernmost Russian ports at Tiksi, being the first car to cross the 73rd parallel north moving under its own power.
In January 2015, the sales increased by 3%. A UAZ Patriot support vehicle took part in the 2015 Dakar Rally, crossing the route of 9,295 km through Bolivia, Chile and Peru. The company finished the production of special series of UAZ Hunters, which were to be replaced by newer models; these Hunters were a limited edition and had airbrushed artistic paintings on them commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. In August the UAZ Patriot received new upgrades, including new paint colors, 18-inch wheels, interiors, frameless wiper blades, etc. The same year UAZ trucks were present at the Moscow Off-Road Show 2015, Interpolitech-2015 and ComTrans-2015 exhibitions.
UAZ delisted from the Moscow Exchange in July 2015.
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