Putin at KAMAZ: ‘People from all over the USSR arrived here, a unique staff was created”
A solemn meeting dedicated to KAMAZ’s 50th anniversary with the president of the country in Naberezhnye Chelny
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has been in Naberezhnye Chelny for the seventh time and congratulated KAMAZ and its workers on the 50th anniversary of the factory in the difficult times for the enterprise — with falling sales of lorries in the Russian market. Before the festivity, he was shown a new cabin and an engine for the latest version of KAMAZ. Putin was also going to have two meetings on the same day: with Rostec’s CEO Sergey Chemezov and Director General of KAMAZ Sergey Kogogin. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent went to the event and learnt why the president of the country considered the KAMAZ staff unique and the youth of the lorry manufacturing mogul amazing.
Russian president arrived in Chelny by special purpose aircraft made by Kazan Aviation Production Association
It should be noted that Putin arrived in Tatarstan by Tu-214PU (Air Force One), it is a special-purpose aircraft made in the republic in 2011 at Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Production Association by the Department of Russian Presidential Affairs. PU stands for airborne command post, the plane is designed for flights of the supreme leadership of states and equipped with all comforts, communications and control equipment. The plane was created on the basis of a long-haul passenger Tu-214 but is different from the model in mass production: apart from special equipment installed on it, its interior has a unique design as well.
50 years after first bucket to latest cabin and engine
As it is known, constructors from all over the Soviet Union began to erect a big lorry making factory on the banks of the Kama River on 13 December 1969: excavator driver Mikhail Noskov pulled out the first bucket of land on the construction site of the future lorry factory on this day. The first mass-produced ZIL-170-based lorry — KAMAZ-5320 — rolled off the production line on 16 February 1976. The act on the first stage of the enterprise was signed on 29 December of the same year, KAMAZ produced 22,000 lorries by 1977. The factory has manufactured over 2,3 million cars since them — from freight lorries to electric buses. A new lorry with a new cabin and an engine have started to be made here this year: on 27 May, KAMAZ announced the start of production of K5-generation cabin frames to equip the model 54901, a new six-cylinder engine R-6 (12-litre diesel units with a capacity of 400-700 h.p.) was prepared for this model in the factory. The factory promised to manufacture a thousand such engines for the new model of the lorry till the end of the year.
Before a meeting with factory workers, Vladimir Putin managed to visit three factories, including a new Cabin Frame Plant, which was put into operation this year, Engine Plant where he got acquainted with a new KAMAZ engine and Lorry Assembly Plant where a new-generation KAMAZ has started to be assembled this year.
Shaimiyev: “it was a trial of the traditions of our people. Many thanks!”
Apart from Putin and Minnikhanov, veterans and founders, constructors of the Kama lorry factory, today’s workers of the company were invited to the solemn event. Over 4,000 people in total participated in the festivity. The stage and stands were set up directly in the production shop between main assembly conveyor belts.
“Thanks to investment policy you managed to create the most competitive car. Your team KAMAZ-Master regularly wins victories. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without serious support of the state and Tatarstan,” Vice Chairman of the Russian Government on Defence-Industrial Complex Affairs Yury Borisov said opening the festivity at the meeting that took place at KAMAZ Lorry Assembly Plant. “Mostly we would like to wish you sustainable development, stability and have no shocks.”
In his speech, Mintimer Shaimiyev who also arrived in KAMAZ urged young workers to think about the first bucket of land 50 years ago, which laid foundation to the construction of the biggest factory on the Kama River:
“People who laid the first stone are now at least 70 years, while many are 80 and 85 years. They laid the foundation. They took control having united many nationalities of the USSR, and it was a trial of traditions of our people. Many thanks! Such friendship is also needed today, such a spiritual unity is needed,” the ex-president of Tatarstan claimed and remembered what KAMAZ had to go through in the 1990s when there was a fire in the lorry giant’s Engine Plant and, in fact, “the factory’s heart burnt down”.
Vice Premier, Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of Kazakhstan Roman Sklyar noted the importance of KAMAZ for its country:
“It is in huge demand in Kazakhstan. And our republic pays huge attention to mechanical engineering, while KAMAZ is very important for us. There are several joint projects with your factory in Kazakhstan. We are proud of the friendship with your and lasting cooperation,” he admitted and added that all the history of the Chelny factory is a “history of stout-hearted people”, and KAMAZ itself today is a “world-class brand”.
Vladimir Putin: “I am giving a low bow to everybody who founded this enterprise, who did one’s best”
The measures supporting natality are insufficient, they will improve, Vladimir Putin promised at the meeting with workers of Engine Plant and admitted that authorities should also work to reduce mortgage rates. The Russian president also noted before going to the jubilee concert that the Monotown Supporting Fund would receive about 5,5 billion rubles in the following three years — Naberezhnye Chelny obviously can count on part of this money. At the meeting itself, Vladimir Putin congratulated the workers and veterans of the factory on the 50th anniversary of their enterprises and called KAMAZ an “international brand” like the Kazakh vice premier.
“I am giving a low bow to everybody who founded this enterprise, who did one’s best — it is workers, engineers, constructors, scientists who undertook this project in 1969,” Putin claimed from the factory’s rostrum. “You all love your city and native Republic of Tatarstan. People from all over the Soviet Union arrived here, a unique staff was created here. People of different nationalities, religions, ages work here. It is a good fusion. The youth are amazing. We’ve just been to the shops, your people think about the future. The whole country, we all are proud of your results. Happy 50th anniversary of KAMAZ!”
In his congratulatory speech, the Russian president expressed his admiration of the lorries of the factory and athletes of KAMAZ-Master team thanks to whose effort too KAMAZ is recognisable around the world today.
Putin’s talk with Chemezov and Kogogin
After the jubilee meeting, Putin was to have two meetings: first with Sergey Chemezov, the head of Rostec (a state corporation that holds 47,2% of shares of the lorry factory) and head of KAMAZ Sergey Kogogin and then with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov. Both meetings were behind closed doors, however, one can certainly say that the trilateral meeting of the Russian leaders with Chemezov and Kogogin was dedicated to the uneasy position of KAMAZ nowadays and a fall in the Russian lorry market. It should be reminded that net loss of KAMAZ PJSC for 9 months in 2019 totalled 1,89 billion rubles. Compared to the indicator from January to September 2018 it grew 6,5 times. Moreover, the enterprise’s revenue rose to 107,11 billion rubles during this period, according to KAMAZ’s interim report.
The company itself explained the loss citing “a complicated situation in the Russian market of commercial transport as well as the company’s investment cycle due to the launch of a K5 new-generation lorry in the market”. It had been said earlier that according to IFRS, KAMAZ’s loss for the first half of 2019 was 3,2 billion rubles. At the end of June when the performance for 2018 and interim performance for 2019 were summed up, Director General of the lorry making giant Sergey Kogogin remembered the crisis that took place 10 years ago for the first time and claimed: “The situation is raising some concern, we wouldn’t like to fall to the position in 2008”. It is not clear yet if Moscow will help KAMAZ somehow, but during the crisis, in 2008-2009, the federal centre supported the lorry manufacturing factory with government procurement, which, in fact, is the only way of helping the factory in case of an economic crisis or a continuing fall in sales in the market.
Sales of lorries in Russian market decreases by 11% in November
Sergey Kogogin claimed a few weeks ago: “In our business, it is hard to say if the year is successful or unsuccessful. The market is rarely very good, during my service it was just in 2007, we haven’t seen such happiness any more, everything was as usual: one has to fight for a seat in the market. And now there are alarming issues,” this is how he commented on the situation with falling sales of lorries in the Russian market. He says marketing experts raised the forecast for the market’s state a bit: earlier they gave 55-56,000 lorries, now the forecast is 59,000 lorries according to this year’s registry. “We hope to sell 29,000 lorries in the domestic market and export a bit more than 5,000. There are some difficulties in meeting export contracts, nevertheless, we expect to finish the year with 33-34,000. Is it much or little? It isn’t enough for KAMAZ, but this is what we have, what we faced and what we live with,” he noted sadly. In 2019, the segment of freight lorries has also gone down, almost twice, this is why the company has produced fewer K4 lorries than planned. Unfortunately, the next year won’t be better than 2019 either, KAMAZ doesn’t expect explosive growth in consumption.
According to data of Avtostat, the volume of the Russian lorry market in November 2019 was 7,200 vehicles (of which 2,400 are sold KAMAZ lorries), which is by 11,3% less than in November 2018. The lorry market fell by 3,3% within 11 months. For 10 months in 2019, KAMAZ-43118 is the most popular model, its sales totalled 5,218 units (by 0,3% more than last year) and KAMAZ-5490 (4,536 units were sold, by 16,9% higher than last year’s indicator) and KAMAZ-65115 (4,178 lorries were sold, which is by 10,6% more).
When and why Vladimir Putin visits Naberezhnye Chelny
In the last 20 years, Vladimir Putin has been in the lorry manufacturing city six times, the goal of almost each of his visits was KAMAZ. So he was in Naberezhnye Chelny for the first time in 2000 as acting president of the country and visited the main assembly conveyor, while, in fact, his visit was linked with his pre-election campaign.
Putin’s second visit was in 2008, at the height of the economic crisis and a very tough situation at KAMAZ. He had a meeting in the company’s general directorate’s building dedicated to aid to car manufacturing companies of Russia through government procurement. In 2009, as Prime Minister Putin congratulated KAMAZ workers with the factory’s 40th anniversary. A year later he was in the lorry making city due to the opening of Sollers and FIAT JV. In 2012, Vladimir Putin visited Chelny and KAMAZ as a prime minister because of his pre-election campaign again, in fact, congratulated on the two-millionth lorry. Finally, the penultimate visit was in 2016 when Putin was at KAMAZ and congratulated the factory workers on the 40th anniversary of the first lorry rolled off the conveyor belt.