GAZ Group, a part of Basic Element, one of Russia’s largest diversified industrial holdings, launched mass production of the GAZelle NEXT panel van. GAZ Group enters the segment of vans with body capacity of over 13 cubic meters what makes GAZ the first Russian brand competing with foreign vehicles in this market. GAZ carried out a large-scale production modernization while preparing for the production of a new model. Investment to the project has reached around 9 billion rubles (132 million euros).
GAZ Group launched mass production of the GAZelle Next panel van. The new model is presented in two versions: a cargo van and a cargo-passenger combi van.
The capacity of the cargo van compartment is 13.5 cubic meters which is 30% larger than that of the previous generation of GAZelles. Easy access to the cargo compartment provides quick and simple loading and unloading processes. Rear doors are blocked in the interim position of 90 degrees and in case of full opening at 270 degrees ensuring high maneuverability even in the narrow city streets. Fiberboard interior trimming, floor coating made of the special waterproof and wear-resistant plywood, protect the cargo compartment from wear and damage.
The cargo-passenger combi van GAZelle Next has the capacity of seven passengers and 9.5 cubic meters of cargo combining the advantages of a cargo van and a comfortable passenger van. The wide sliding door provides easy access to the rear part of the compartment. The rear seats transform into a comfortable berth. Even the basic configuration includes the starting preheater by Webasto.
The body of GAZelle NEXT is made of zinc-coated steel, and some of its elements are made of high-duty fiberglass. This provides high endurance and good anti-corrosion properties of the vehicle. A new 80-liter plastic fuel tank helped to increase the fuel interval. Frame reinforcements ensured better rigidity and reliability of the vehicle structure.
The double fishbone independent front suspension, rack-and-gear steering, breaking system with double capacity, spacious and comfortable cockpit, seat with five regulations ensure excellent steerability, high comfort and reliability.
New automated welding and stamping facilities have been developed, and the painting and assembly lines have been upgraded for the new GAZelle Next panel van production at GAZ.
The automated stamping line is equipped with state-of-the-art six-axis KUKA robots of the last generation and press machines with LG equipment, specially designed for the project. The line produces large parts including face side panels, underframe, sliding and wing doors. The new line features high precision and efficiency of production. The line capacity is 6 to 8 parts per minute.
The new welding line ensures automatic production of different versions of the body. Modern Fanuc robots with payload capacity of up to 700 kg are installed in the side panel underframe, body and door welding sections. Each robot autonomously performs the changeover and is capable of handling, welding, flanging, gluing and sealing operations. The welding line also includes new overhead conveyers and automated component delivery systems.
GAZelle Next vans are painted in the new Eisenmann facility. A special painting program has been developed for each van version with a specific track of the robots along six axis in all the planes ensuring even paint of the body.
Vadim Sorokin, GAZ Group President:
– From the technical point of view, the new project is the most complex and large-scale project that GAZ Group has been implementing for the last 15 years. The modern approaches to the vehicle development and new automated facility construction allowed us to create a vehicle with excellent functionality, long life-cycle and low cost of ownership. The GAZelle Next market launch will allow GAZ Group not only to extend its presence in the markets of Russia and the CIS but also to develop export programs.