Changan cars become Volga in Russia – China helps resurrect Russian brand

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May 21 saw the resurrection of the Volga car brand with three new models shown at an industrial exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. No you’re not reading Car News Russia, all three cars are actually based on Changan models.

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Volga is a brand belonging to GAZ (Gorky Automobile Plant), but the brand was last produced in 2010 when the company stopped producing a modified version of the Chrysler Sebring known as the Volga Siber. The three new cars are the C40 sedan and the K30 and K40 SUVs. All three use the same Changan JL473ZQ7 1.5 liter engine which delivers 188 hp (138 kW) and delivers 300 Nm torque. Currently the transmission is unknown but the C40 sedan is believed to have a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The C40 mid-sized sedan is based on the second generation Changan Raeton Plus which first went on sale in 2023. The Raeton Plus measures in at 4800, 1820, and 1480 mm (l/w/h) while having a wheelbase of 2770 mm.

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The K30 a compact SUV and is based on the Changan Oshan X5 which debuted in 2020. Measuring in at 4490, 1860, and 1580 mm (l/w/h) it rides on a wheelbase of 2710 mm.

Finally the K40 is a mid-size SUV based on the Changan UNI-Z which went on sale in 2022. The UNI-Z measure in at 4699, 1890, and 1660 (l/w/h) while the wheelbase is 2795 mm.

Measurements for the Volga cars are currently unknown but are likely to be very similar to the Chinese cars they are based on. Changes appear to be largely limited to the shape of the bumper and radiator grille along with the addition of the GAZ badge, which features a deer.

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GAZ is headquartered in Nizhny Novgorod, formerly known as Gorky, which most likely explains the cars debut at an exhibition in the city. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and other government ministers inspected the cars at the exhibition and asked questions about the origins of the cars. He was told that a lot of the car parts were not made in China but when he discovered that the steering wheel wasn’t made in Russia he said that it should be and urged producers to increase local content.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin inspecting a Volga car

Mishustin is reported to have said “I’ve always wanted to see Russia produce these parts and designs on its own, and it can be said that the production of these things is not very difficult.” He urged that localization should first focus on easy to produce parts.

Denis Manturov, then Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, announced in 2023 that GAZ would resume production of Volga cars. The plant used was previously used by foreign producers including Volkswagen. Full production of the new Volga cars should begin from 2025.

Following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine western producers left the Russian market. In April Russia imported 57,812 passenger cars, of which 94% came from China. Furthermore with the exception of top placed Lada Chinese brands dominate the top 10 best-selling brands in the country. Russia has announced plans to resume production of defunct Russian car brands to try to stem imports.

Currently there seem to be no details regarding the deal between Changan and GAZ regarding the Volga cars. Presumably they are being built on some sort of licensing arrangement and it would seem that many of the parts are coming from China.

Volga was a brand first created in 1956 and produced larger cars that were initially used to provide transportation to the nomenklatura a class of bureaucrats in the Soviet Union. The cars also found use as taxis.

Sources: Fast Technology, Observer, Tencent News, Belarusian Ideal Society,

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  1. Strange decision because Volga was kind of Soviet luxury and Changan is not a premium brand like Hongqi, Wey or Nio.

    • Not quite. The luxury brand was Chaika. Volga was quite popular and worked in taxis, although of course it was more expensive than Lada and Moskvitch.

    • Hongqi may become the new Aurus. The Russian Minister of Industry has already announced that production of new Aurus models will be launched in autumn at the former Toyota plant in St. Petersburg “together with eastern partners.”

  2. The grill and logo look much better than on the original car. I guess GAZ does not have any longer skills and competencies and economies of scale to develop new luxury passenger cars, but the hands of the owner and management are itchy to take off the dust from the glorious brand before it becomes completely forgotten. So, this, I guess, is a solution. At least a temporary.

  3. I’ve never heard of the Volga, but here in Brazil there are still some Ladas on the road. Of the Lada, the Niva is the best, I always wanted one when I was little 😀 They could make an updated version of Niva, It would be really cool to have an electric or erev Niva.



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