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MINSK MOTOR WORKS OVERCOMES WORLD FINANCIAL CRISIS TO STRENGTHEN COMPETITIVE ABILITY AND DEVELOP NEW MARKETS
MINSK MOTOR WORKS OVERCOMES WORLD FINANCIAL CRISIS TO STRENGTHEN COMPETITIVE ABILITY AND DEVELOP NEW MARKETS.

In March, Minsk Motor Works produced the CIS’ first truck to comply with international ecological Euro-5 requirements. It is the result of serious modernisation, with a more dynamic cabin, a Mercedes 435 horsepower engine, German transmission and a larger fuel tank. One model of the truck features a MAN engine and Minsk Motor Works has enhanced trucks to be suitable for international, long haul journeys — meeting Euro-5 standards since October 1st, 2008.

Belarus has an advantageous geographical position, with two international transport corridors running through it. National motor transport employees use it actively, developing the haul of transit goods. In 2007, Minsk Motor Works produced four new trucks, trailers and dump trucks, with eight more in 2008. Demand for its automobiles is ever increasing. Last year, Belarusian enterprises engaged in international haulage bought 220 MAZ vehicles fitted with imported engines — six times more than in 2006.
Sergey Zakharevich, the Deputy Commercial Director of Minsk Motor Works, asserts, “Serial production of Euro-5 trucks will enhance the trend further, alongside a flexible pricing policy. Our heavy haulers with imported engines are one and a half times cheaper than similar European vehicles.”

In 2008, Minsk Motor Works raised production by 10.6 percent, releasing over 37 000 automobiles, carriages, buses and auto-cranes; 24 000 were exported. Will Minsk Motor Works manage to maintain its position during the current world economic crisis? Minsk buses are being exported to Romania, Germany and other countries, enabling production of buses to continue at full capacity. The same situation is evident with auto-cranes. As for cargo vehicles and trailers, the enterprise is now only producing them to order. In the first quarter of 2009, sales to Russia (the main market) fell several times in comparison to the same period of the previous year.

The automobile industry worldwide is experiencing difficulty and is on the verge of breakdown in the USA. Only state support can help. Fortunately, the situation is more stable at Minsk Motor Works. The main assembly line has significantly slowed down but none of its 27 000 workers have been made redundant. Product expansion, improvement of quality and the search for new markets are solutions that the enterprise will continue to battle towards.

Production of new engines for short and long haul vehicles are being produced under license by French Renault for Yaroslavl Motor Works in Russia. A new model features a 412 horsepower engine (significantly lighter and more effective than its predecessor), a quiet, modern cabin and new frame and suspension. Noise levels have been lowered to meet European requirements and customers can select a cabin in one of four sizes.

Modern engines rely on electronics and can only be serviced at professional service stations. Is the service network ready for this? Minsk Motor Works tells us that MAZ has service stations in various foreign countries (excluding Russia and Ukraine) — in Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Syria. Meanwhile, most European MAZ dealerships offer their own service network, e.g. the office in the Czech Republic oversees 17 stations in the Czech Republic and four in Slovakia. By the end of last year, Minsk Motor Works had certified two new service stations — in Estonia and Azerbaijan. Service support for complex YMZ, Deutz, Mercedes and MAN engines is offered via an enhanced service network, e.g. Daimler AG Company (Mercedes engine) works through over 1000 service stations in Germany.

Minsk Motor Works produces 166 models and 1318 modifications, giving 2889 variations. The vehicle can be tailored to the customer’s needs in almost every case. Nevertheless, the plant is ever expanding its range and is keen to produce a medium-sized truck for the countryside, an 8х4 dump truck, two haul rigs with larger trailers, and an auto-crane with all-wheel drive.

Of course, in the current climate, it isn’t always easy to find buyers. “Minsk Motor Works is surviving due to its new markets in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East,” explains Nikolay Kosten, the General Director of the enterprise. “For example, we are exploring the construction of a bus plant in Syria and the assembly of trailers in Kazakhstan. We are also discussing perspectives for assembling automobiles in Russia.”

Belarusian embassies are helping set up arrangements, promoting the state programme of export expansion, with good results. In the first quarter of 2009, 85 vehicle sets (two and three-axial chassis) were sent to Egypt for assembly while another contract is supplying 50 vehicle sets. Dump and platform trucks, cisterns, repair trucks and sewer flushers are to be assembled at the Cairo enterprise, which has been working with Minsk Motor Works since 1997. Last year, 175 automobiles were supplied to Egypt; 135 have been sent in the first quarter of 2009.

The Venezuelan market also offers promise, with 70 agricultural machines (mainly haul rigs able to transport around 40 tonnes of cargo) sold in the first quarter of 2009. Trailers have been designed to meet the wishes of the customers and the construction industry has ordered a great many trucks.
Kazakhstan is also a growing market, with 100 trucks supplied in the first quarter (compared to 322 throughout 2008). The European market is also active, with 10 and 20 tonne dump trucks (mainly used for municipal services) proving popular. The first supplies to Bulgaria and Latvia have already been made.

The state export strategy is proving efficient. Mr. Kosten has announced that, in the first quarter of 2009, all of his company’s targets were successfully met.

Vladimir Bibikov
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