Tatarstan to launch the production of new gas-engine lorries and buses

RariTEK company from Chelny has at the moment to buy engines and axles for new vehicles in China

Tatarstan to launch the production of new gas-engine lorries and buses
Photo: Vasilyev

As Realnoe Vremya found out, RariTEK automotive plant from Chelny that supplied vehicles for Kazan’s passenger car enterprises is going to start the production of a new model of Tatarstan gas-engine low buses Lotos soon. At the same time, the Tatarstan manufacturer decided to master a new area, thus competing with the Gorky car plant making Gazel vehicles. The Chelny factory is starting to produce new Russia light-weight lorries. On the threshold of these events, the company submitted applications to register three new trademarks. Read about difficulties of transition of production to Russian components, “technical and tactical” characteristics of the novelties and expectations of the Kazan city administration in our report.

Lotos grew up and changed the plate

RariTEK car plant from Chelny submitted applications to register three new commodity trademarks Lotos neon, Lotos pioner and Lotos junior. The first brand is designed for a modified Tatarstan passenger bus running on gas, the other two — for a completely new product of the enterprise.

“Our enterprise one of whose activities is the production of eco-friendly Lotos buses in Naberezhnye Chelny is planning to develop a new area — the production of light-weight lorries running in methane,” head of the project Denis Denisov answered Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent’s question about why RariTEK holding submitted applications to register new trademarks. “At the moment, it is planned to produce two lorry models — Lotos pioneer and Lotos junior. But it is a remote prospect than the production of a new, 12-metre modification of Loton neon bus.

Denisov explained that currently Lotos buses were produced as model 105, the name comes from the length of the bus of 10.5 metres.

Lotos buses running on gas motor fuel were handed over to passenger car enterprises of Kazan in 2018. Photo: Vladimir Vasilyev/

Demonstration of power

In answer to the question when exactly the new Tatarstan buses would appear in Kazan, Denis Denisov replied that they were just going to start the production of 12-metre vehicles, while the issue of their possible supplies was going to be discussed later. He stressed that the goal of the presentation of Lotos 105 bus that took place in Kazan a month ago was to show that Tatarstan had its own competitive supplier of passenger buses.

Indeed, earlier, they have still been bought in Belarus (MAZ) or Bashkiria (NefAZ) for our urban public transport. Earlier, Chinese Dragons had been brought to Tatarstan.

“Now our task is to expand the bus line and offer the market a new 12-metre bus made in Russia,” said Denis Denisov. “The mayor of Kazan expressed his desire to see a 12-metre three-door, low-floor bus and voiced a number of wishes for its construction.”

The metal is Russian, the engine is Chinese

The enterprise said that the buses were made from Russian materials: the metal is supplied by Naberezhnye Chelny and Lipetsk enterprises, glass is made in Bor city, seats are in Yekaterinburg, tyres — in Nizhnekamsk, natural gas storage tanks — in Izhevask, wheels — in Zainsk, accumulators — in Yelabuga, paint — in Tver, plastic — in Neftekamsk.

However, it turned out to be impossible to completely refuse imports nowadays and the enterprise is using imported components of Chinese origin:

“Chinese engines are installed in the buses, they are chosen because of their 10-year service life, in case of their responsible use and timely technical maintenance, of course. Axles are bought in China too.”

“Aren’t axles made in Russia?”

“Unfortunately, good quality elements are simply not yet made.”

Not always comfortable but safe

“What about the passenger seats? Are they as ergonomic as the in buses used in Kazan now?” Realnoe Vremya specified. “Passengers complain they are very uncomfortable because of the short pad...”

“We haven’t received complaints about such inconveniences. Also, if the seat’s length increases, the number of seats decreases, which is uncomfortable too.”

“There is another problem that concerns passengers. Today heating is often not turned off in Kazan buses even during the scorch, citing different reasons like the driver cannot do this by just pushing the button in the cabin.

“In the Lotoses — both that are already made and that will be made — heating is turned on and off in the driver’s cabin precisely by pushing the button, and if needed air conditioning can be turned on, it is included into the standard modification. Also, it includes USB ports.” The vehicle also has a rigid frame and a metal reinforced structure:

“In case of a road accident, this will protect everybody in the cabin. And total anti-corrosion treatment of the cabin, double painting and the absence of electric wires under the floor where there can be a short circuit if water gets in are an important circumstance for transport enterprises. By the way, a very good quality coating is used for the floor, its service is life is 10 years.”

RariTEK automotive plant, which is part of the namesake holding, was registered in Nizhny Suyk-Su village 16 years ago, in the suburbs of Naberezhnye Chelny. In late 2022, over 200 people worked there, the company’s incomes reached 4.2 billion rubles, net profit was 371.8 million, net assets topped 1,22 billion.

Its Director General Rafael Batyrshin is one of the end beneficiaries of the head company — RariTEK holding — with 25% of its shares. 30% of shares belong to Gulnara Islamova and Alina Sharafiyeva, the other 15% — to Khania Safiullina. The holding’s incomes in late 2022 reached 280.8 million rubles, net profit — 53.8 million.

Rafael Batyrshin’s company became the official dealer of KAMAZ nearly two decades ago, it became its strategic partner in the development of gas engine equipment about 10 years ago. The companies of the holding operate not only in Tatarstan but also in Yakutia, Sverdlovsk, Perm and Krasnodar Krai.

In 2020-2021, the automotive plant of the holding won three public contracts to supply buses — for 259 million rubles for the Ministry of Property Management and Urban Engineering of Perm Krai and for 60.4 million rubles for Bratsk.

Lotos in flames

Meanwhile, nowadays a lawsuit of First Transport Mediacompany from Cheboksary against RariTEK automotive plant and another two defendants — Doriss-Skan and Avotmir from Moscow — is in the Court of Arbitration of the Chuvash Republic nowadays on claiming 9.2 million rubles of damage because of a fire in the bus Lotos 206.

This is a gas version of MAZ-206 that, as Realnoe Vremya was told, was already withdrawn from production. According to, this model is used in Tatarstan, Chuvashia, Bashkiria, Kuzbass, Perm and Kamchatka krais, Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous districts, Rostov, Chelyabinsk and Moscow oblasts — a total of 190 buses.

In the rule published on the website of the Court of Arbitration of Chuvashia as of 20 April 2023, the plaintiff’s requirement comes from the fact that Doriss Scan poorly fixed imperfections under guarantee, which was purchased from Avtomir, that led to a fire in the bus.

The court fixed an inspection, the plaintiff was satisfied with the results but not the defendant — Doriss-Scan. The firm that did works under guarantee asks for another inspection considering the first expert statement “not full and not true.” The next court hearing will be in late May.

Anna Nagorkina