MAZ ready to rival world giants
The last MAZ programme finished more than a year ago, with the focus on mass production of engines and vehicles meeting international EURO-4 eco-standards. The latest plan aims to raise technical levels, continuing EURO-4 production and introducing EURO-5 vehicles, with plans for EURO-6 afoot. In order to remain competitive within the Single Economic Space, research and development needs to be ongoing, as stressed by the Deputy Financial Director of Minsk’s Automobile Works JSC, Oleg Yushko, at a recent press conference. It is an opinion shared by many.
Competition in today’s global market is a true concern for the Belarusian giant. Besides the Single Economic Space, which removes all barriers to trade between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia’s joining the WTO allows Western automobiles freer entry. Customs duties on imported trucks are dropping several-fold, so MAZ faces rivalry from those whose production costs are less, due to economies of scale: MAZ produces around 25,000 vehicles annually, compared to some foreign companies producing 3-4 times more.
“We know that we face a difficult situation but we won’t change our ambitious plans regarding expansion on the Russian market by 5 percent,” asserts Anatoly Dedkov, MAZ’s Deputy Director General. “To achieve a stable position on the Russian market, we should focus on enhancing our technological level while expanding our range.”
It’s difficult to deny the necessity of these measures. Moreover, the Belarusian Government believes that MAZ cannot work alone on the foreign market; negotiations have been already underway for a year to create a holding between MAZ JSC and Russian KAMAZ JSC. A similar proposal has been received from Russian GAZ Group. MAZ’s assets are being assessed — as is obligatory in such cases.
“It’s difficult to decide but we must,” noted Vladimir Semashko, Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister, addressing the country’s Industry Ministry. Shares in Minsk Automobile Works are currently 100 percent owned by the state; accordingly, the enterprise is managed wholly by the state. It is uncertain when a new development programme for Belarus and Russia regarding diesel automobile construction will be adopted, but it would certainly become an acid test for the future.
Co-operation has previously been discussed, with the aim of moving towards joint EURO-5 automobile technology. However, talks failed. A management company for collaboration has been established however, so it should be easier to prepare a future programme of business partnership.
The MT’s reference
Over the next five years, Minsk Automobile Works is to set up manufacture of super low-floor buses with two or three sections, using hybrid power units, as well as module-type multiple-link road trains with a capacity of up to 120 tonnes. In total, MAZ produces over 500 models and modifications of truck tractors, sided trucks and medium-duty vehicles, as well as heavy duty dump trucks and cross-country vehicles.