Belarusians’ hope for a high-quality people’s car is becoming a reality
Overweight vehicles, mining dump trucks and tractors made in Belarus have long become a national treasure, and these products are today recognised in all corners of the world. Belarusian electric buses do not experience any particular problems in finding their place in the domestic and foreign markets. And now the domestic passenger car industry is already beginning its history, confidently competing with popular global manufacturers.
The President of Belarus,
“We will have our own Belarusian car. Since we are already hooked on this, then we will reach the production of our own absolutely, almost 100 percent Belarusian car. High-quality car.”
From a speech to employees of organisations at the Minsk National Airport on August 11th, 2023
Under our own brand
The well-known Belarusian-Chinese automobile project was called too bold, given that this industrial niche has always been crowded. But the decision made by the President to organise our own production of passenger cars was correct. The new plant gave jobs and salaries not only to Borisov, but also to the subcontractors who are making the car more and more Belarusian. In addition, the company began producing equipment under its own brand BelGee X50. In the near future there are also plans to produce two more models under the domestic name. According to the BelGee Director General Gennady Svidersky, domestic brand gives more opportunities. This includes the prospect of independently regulating all processes and determining the terms of sale.
Indeed, the creation of our own brand will significantly change the situation for the plant: the parent Chinese company opens access to those manufacturers who supply components. Today, quite a lot of space has been freed up for automobile production in the Union State, and the technological potential of Russia and Belarus allows these capacities to be utilised.
Producing cars under your own brand is one of the ways to solve the issue of localisation of production. Tests of Belshina and Belarusian batteries were successfully carried out. There will be not only welding, painting, our assembly, installation, but also components, Gennady Svidersky notes.
Focus on the acceleration
According to Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Parkhomchik, the Belarusian car industry is developing at an accelerated pace. Last year, about 30 thousand cars were produced, and this quantity was not enough on the market. The President has set a tough target to produce 60 thousand passenger cars this year, and it will be achieved. About 40 thousand vehicles have already been produced and sold, and localisation of the component base is becoming the most important task.
BelGee has big plans for next year. It is necessary to create a stamping production in a short period of time and begin production of all body components. In addition, we need to launch production for welding structures. Therefore, the stage of organising additional capacity begins in order to be able to produce about 80 thousand cars per year with a two-shift operating mode.
The Belarusian passenger car is becoming truly popular, since today you even have to stand in line for some time to buy it.
Demand creates supply
It is important for any businessman that his or her products are sold and in demand. The Belarusian manufacturer of passenger cars has no problems with sales today — there is great demand in both the Belarusian and Russian markets. In order to fulfil the President’s instructions to increase production volumes, the company works 12 hours a day and seven days a week, Gennady Svidersky notes, an additional recruitment was announced. By the way, in 2023 it is planned to sell approximately 13 thousand cars in Belarus, that is, three times more than last year.
But we must understand that production volumes cannot be increased instantly — this is a gradual process. The supply chains disrupted as a result of the sanctions are also having an impact, and a reset has been made in this regard. The company uses all available channels, which it mastered this and last year.
When the plant opened, the President set the task of making the car popular. This meant affordability. Therefore, a campaign is underway in the country to return prices to a fair course so that unscrupulous sellers do not profit from the current situation. The Belarusian automaker is also struggling to reduce costs, Gennady Svidersky emphasises.
If we are talking about the people’s car, then this year a new model appeared, which at its price (it is below Br50,000) becomes accessible to a wider circle. There is also a financial programme, to support domestic cars, which allows one to purchase cars on credit and leasing at bank rates lower than the refinancing rate.
New generation components
Belarusian scientists and designers are creating the most important components for electric transport. These are power motors, control electronics, and the heart of any electric vehicle — batteries. As reported by the National Academy of Sciences, today manufacturers are focusing on assembly from lithium-ion cells. NAS has three enterprises that assemble battery systems. However, it is more important to be prepared to replace lithium. Today, a new direction is being looked at — sodium-ion batteries. Prototypes are already being produced in laboratory conditions. If the results are positive, then we can talk about mass production.
By the way, during the annual exhibition Electric Transport Day, First Deputy Industry Minister Aleksandr Ogorodnikov announced the imminent completion of work on a prototype of a Belarusian electric vehicle: the domestic model will be presented to a wide audience this year.
The presence of scientific, personnel and industrial potential in the field of mechanical engineering provides the prerequisites for the possibility of attracting well-known foreign brands to create fundamentally new and modern production of passenger cars in the post-Soviet space. We are talking primarily about Chinese partners, who are beginning to occupy one of the leading positions in the world market. The creation of joint automobile production with Indian and Iranian enterprises, which are also dynamically increasing their rating in the international market, could also be quite interesting in terms of co-operation. Moreover, bringing vehicle kits and assembling a car is no longer entirely relevant and is not always economically profitable. Today, in-house production with a high level of localisation looks most promising.
Gratitude to the Chinese leadership
The launch of production of domestic passenger cars became another bright page in the history of the country. The President stated this on November 17th, 2017, at the grand opening of the new plant of BelGee, “Our friends responded to my request and helped create this wonderful plant. Moreover, they also provided loans. Therefore, first of all, I want to say today that my dream of making our own passenger car has come true.” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that for this it is necessary to thank the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, in particular the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.