The news comes as a relief to enthusiast of the Niva and the Chevrolet brand after earlier rumors suggested that the vehicle, which was initially planned for a 2016 calendar year launch, was scrapped due to Russian economic woes.
The Niva, a legendary nameplate in Russia, is the most ambitious project undertaken by the joint venture since its inception. This is due to the vehicle requiring a new production facility as a result of being completely overhauled (redesigned and re-engineered). As such, it will require an all-new vehicle architecture that we believe will end up being GM’s new G2XX platform.
Sources familiar with the project tell us that it would be significantly more cost effective to build the new Niva at a completely new plant, rather than retooling the production site of the current Niva in Tolyatti, Russia due to various factors, the most prominent of which is a general lack of upgrade flexibility and modernization. The present plant, however, is set to receive various updates later this year in order to optimize production of the current Niva.
Construction of the new Niva plant commenced in 2013, but was paused in 2015 due to Russia’s financial and economic crises along with the devaluation of the ruble as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the West over the Ukraine conflict. The same economic woes caused GM to (possibly temporarily) pull its Opel and Chevrolet brands from the market’s mainstream vehicle segments. GM-AvtoVAZ is currently in the negotiating with banks and other financial institutions on loans that will allow construction of the new Niva plant to resume. This new facility is also located in the city of Tolyatti.
We expect GM/GM-AvtoVAZ to announce details about the new Niva in the latter part of 2016. Designed by Shanghai GM and engineered in Russia, the vehicle was publicly unveiled in concept form at the 2014 Moscow Auto Show in August 2014. In December 2015, the production-intent design of the new Niva was revealed in patent filings (shown above).