Lada is set to relaunch in western Europe - including the UK - by 2012-2013 to counter the threat of Chinese car makers, senior sources admitted last night.
Renault's global marketing senior vice president, Stephen Norman, told CAR that Renault-Nissan's stake in Russian firm AvtoVaz would help bring about the return of Lada to Britain.
'The UK is one of the few markets where Lada was a success,' said Norman. 'I'm confident the time is right to bring it back.'
So why is Lada returning to western Europe?
The alliance plans to bring back Lada to counter the threat of upstart Chinese car makers. Renault confirmed this spring it would bring Dacia to the UK in 2012 - and Lada will help Renault-Nissan hog the cheap car market.
'The Chinese won't get in before us,' said Norman. 'But they will become a threat between 2012-2015.'
Back to the Cold War? Which Ladas will be sold in the UK?
We're not quite sure yet. But Norman said that Ladas would sport Renault-Nissan engines and gearboxes by 2014-2015 and Euro-Japanese platforms and designs by 2013-2016.
The latter indicates that defunct models could be shipped wholesale to Russia. That's like the strategy that enables the old Audi A4 to be microwaved and served up - tepidly - as the Seat Exeo.
The Chinese and Russians coming? Sounds radical....
It's another sign that it's all change in Europe. The gaping chasm at the bottom of the market is about to be plugged - and the ancien regime is desperate to make sure it fills the gap, not predatory Chinese car makers.
>> Should Lada come back? Click 'Add your comment' and sound off