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During the first quarter of 2010, Russian automaker Avtovaz lost 2.6 billion rubles ($85M U.S.). In the second quarter it made almost a third of that back when it posted a net profit of one billion rubles ($32.7M U.S). The spike came courtesy of Russia's cash-for-clunkers program, which more than doubled the firm's sales over Q1 numbers to 149,100 cars.

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Renault R30 F1 car – click above for high-res image gallery

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Renault has found a way to appease Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that didn't involve writing a check for $850 million. The French company took a 25% stake in Russian carmaker Avtovaz, and when Avtovaz started having a hard time of it earlier this year Renault looked content to see how things turned out. Putin wasn't: he told Carlos Ghosn to inject cash into Avtovaz, or Putin would dilute Renault's stake with a share sale.

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It seemed like a good idea at the time, but with hindsight being 20-20, how many failed ventures can be summed up by that same excuse? Just last year, Russia was looking to foreign investors as one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. Renault got locked into a bidding war with Fiat and General Motors for a large stake in Autovaz, Russia's largest automaker, known to consumers for producing Lada.

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Lada C Concept - Click above for a high-res gallery

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Here's one way to clear traffic jams – become the Russian President. The above picture shows you how a typical Moscow street looks at pretty much any time of day. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye can see. But to paraphrase Mel Brooks in History of the World, Part I, "It's good to be the Pres." When President Putin has to get somewhere in a hurry, they make sure he can arrive in a timely fashion. The following photo shows how the same streets look when his Mercedes Limo and G

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