The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

GAZ Group Launches GAZelle NEXT

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA – April 12, 2013: GAZ Group’s Gorky Automobile Plant, part of Basic Element, one of Russia’s largest diversified industrial groups, has started serial production of the new-generation GAZelle NEXT light commercial vehicle. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, officiated at the launch by pressing the Start of Production button.

Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, said:“The release of a new model is always an exciting moment. But most importantly this model is really investing in the future and the name of the model proves that. It is crucial that you modernized the technologies and facilities and integrated "flexible production." This approach allows you to quickly change production and respond rapidly to changing market needs. GAZ has always been one of the flagships of our Russian car industry, and I'm absolutely sure you will stay so. With more than 300 models and a wide range of capacity, it is impressive. This is a recent achievement. But perhaps the most important thing is that today GAZ products are demanded by all categories of consumer - small and medium-sized businesses, public services, emergency services and security agencies. I am confident that your models have a strong future in the country, and hopefully abroad.

Over the past 10 years, labor productivity has increased by 4 times at GAZ. This growth should be an example for our economy. Now we are making these changes in all production industries, and GAZ is an absolute model for them. I'm sure the new model will take its place in the market, and of course I want to wish you all bon voyage.”

GAZelle NEXT goes into production as a drop-side truck with standard and long cargo platforms. Going forward, the model will serve as the base for a full range of light commercial vehicles with GVW of 2.8 to 5 tons, including passenger/cargo modifications with a two-row cab, frame buses with 19 seats, full-metal vans and minibuses, as well as more than 100 types of specialty vehicles.

GAZ Group’s President Bo Andersson said: “The GAZelle NEXT family has state-of-the-art technical solutions applied in vehicle design. High active and passive safety, as well as excellent cockpit ergonomics, make GAZelle NEXT the customer’s best choice. Lifecycle durability and quick payback in operation for any business application are underpinned by a warranty extended to three years, low maintenance costs, high fuel efficiency and best-in-class price.”

GAZelle Next is built using parts and components from worldleading suppliers: Cummins diesel engine, ZF steering, Mando shock absorbers, Anvis silent blocks, braking system elements form Bosch and Mando, CSA Castellon adjustable steering column, Sachs clutch, Takata safety belts, Delphi HVAC, driving seat from Isringhausen.

State-of-the-art technical solutions, ergonomics and safety

NEXT’s spacious cabin is equipped with a comfortable anatomic driver’s seat with 5 adjustments and lumbar support. Wide door opening and foot step lowered 85 mm provide for easy ingress/egress. New independent double-wishbone front suspension is as or more robust than leaf spring, while ensuring a smoother ride, excellent stability and response at high speeds.

Rack-and-pinion steering provides passenger car sharpness and response. Modularized steering gear and wheel suspension eliminate understeer, even in movement on uneven roads.

GAZelle NEXT’s brake system is designed with double redundancy. Larger master cylinder, high-efficiency front brakes with heat-resistant brake disks have lowered pedal stress and reduced stopping distance from 80 kmph to 34 meters – best performance among commercial vehicles.

Enlarged engine compartment houses an extended-area aluminum radiator, ruling out engine overheating even in high ambient temperatures in city traffic jams.

Commercial transportation experts will appreciate the new cargo platform. Due to increased width, the truckbed now holds five standard cargo pallets (six for the long version). Aluminum platform body sides, floor lining of water-resistant plywood, rectangular design and increased height of the canvass top with strengthened space frame ensure efficient cargo haulage and long useful life of the new platform.

Special emphasis was placed on vehicle safety in engineering GAZelle NEXT. Cab structural elements incorporate programmed crumple zones absorbing frontal crash energy. Drop-sleeved steering column assembly, optional airbags (available from late 2013) and new pretensioner seat belts ensure high driver and passenger safety in case of a front-end crash.

Vehicle safety validated by full-cycle tests

During the tests GAZelle NEXT vehicles were driven over more than 2,000,000 km. Testing was performed with maximum load (GVW of 3.5 t and more) and included ride comfort, roadability, steering response and braking performance tests. The trucks were tested on all kinds of surfaces, including cobblestone and ice, negotiating pits and border stones, crossing tram and rail tracks. Several testing sessions were dedicated to acoustic comfort and ease of maintenance.

The tests, lasting more than nine months, were performed in Spain at the proving grounds of Applus IDIADA, one of major independent automotive vehicle engineering and certification companies. It was there that NEXT’s chassis fine-tuning was finalized, in particular suspension, steering gear and shock absorbers, as well as trying out the brakes on six types of roads including in curves, on wavy road and in grooves. The vehicles also passed the pendulum and barrier crash tests, demonstrating full conformity to passenger car safety requirements.

Modernization of production facilities

In the course of GAZelle NEXT preproduction new stamping and welding lines were installed at GAZ plant, the paint shop underwent modernization, new quality control stations were implemented.

Use of new high precision dies and modern jigs and fixtures ensures stable parts geometry, high cabin stiffness and tightness. Most of stamped panels are pressed on Komatsu robot-aided lines, the process involving over 230 high precision dies and jigs and fixtures supplied by leading die-makers of South Korea. 3D-modeling, technology mastering and dies design development were performed with participation of GAZ specialists by one of the leaders in production tooling engineering: V-EnS company, a subsidiary of LG Corporation.

Installation of new welding equipment resulted in improved welding precision and weld joint efficiency. High degree of automation makes it possible to assemble in one flow cabs for GAZelle NEXT, GAZelle-BUSINESS and Valdai medium-duty truck, while flexibly shuffling model nomenclature to meet market demand.