“We are still having our dating time in order to better understand the capabilities of Skolkovo.” These were the exact words used by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of AvtoVAZ and Senior Vice President of Renault Nicolas Maure to describe the stage of potential cooperation, which, under certain conditions, can lead to the beginning of a partnership, centered on the territory of the Innovation Town.
At least this is the opportunity mentioned in the Memorandum of Intentions signed between PJSC AvtoVAZ and the Skolkovo Foundation. The document was signed by Selcuk Cura, the Executive Vice President for Engineering of AvtoVAZ, and Mikhail Tykuchinsky, Director for Development of Energy Efficient Technologies of the Skolkovo Foundation.
A memorandum of intentions was signed in Skolkovo between PJSC AvtoVAZ and the Foundation. Photo: Sk.ru
If both parties like the “dating time” (in the words of Nicolas Maure), this will help “create positive, fruitful partnerships with the participation of AvtoVAZ and Renault, the top manager of the French automobile giant told Sk.ru. Several days ago the Senior Vice President of Renault was elected the new Chairman of the Board of Directors at the annual General Shareholders Meeting of AvtoVAZ.
The need for such a partnership has been dictated by the realities of the fast-growing automotive market, Monsieur Maure says. “New technologies have been playing an important role in this process, especially when it comes to the so-called connectivity in the car industry. In this sense, it is very important for us to create a sufficiently strong team that will be able to manage such projects at least for the period of five to ten years in the future.
We even have a dream to include the Russian team in the global Renault-Nissan alliance so that it could contribute to new technologies. We are starting here in Skolkovo, in the future this cooperation can become more global.”
Speaking about innovations at Renault, Nicolas Maure mentioned the fact that the French company and the Renault-Nissan Alliance as a whole have spent the last five years working on closer cooperation with startups, first and foremost with the goal of studying the ‘Next Generation’ technologies. “At times we jokingly say that the automobiles of tomorrow will be smartphones on wheels with an electric engine,” he says. “The very character of business will change: we will be selling not cars per se; we will be selling services and autonomous mileage.” With this view on the future, we are ready to invest much more in software companies. We have already reached an agreement with Google.”
Nicolas Maure: Cooperation with Skolkovo may lead us into a fruitful partnership involving both AvtoVAZ and Renault. Photo: Sk.ru
Monsieur Maure believes that these technologies will not appear overnight, and ends the interview in an elegantly French manner, nodding toward his colleague Selcuk Cura: “Celcuk is a young man with a long career ahead of him, so he will have to deal with these technologies much closer.”
“We even have a dream to include the Russian team in the global Renault-Nissan alliance so that it could contribute to new technologies. We are starting here in Skolkovo, in the future this cooperation can become more global.”
“In Russia we are looking for opportunities to develop the technologies of the future further, such as autonomy, connectivity and various power solutions that we want to use in our cars,” the Executive Vice President of AvtoVAZ told Sk.ru. This is not his first time in Skolkovo; first contact with Mikhail Tykuchinsky was established about six months ago. The French partners are working through their contacts in AvtoVAZ and Renault, our interlocutor told Sk.ru, handing us two business cards, one for Group Renault and the other one – for LADA.
“Engineering divisions of AvtoVAZ and Renault Russia employ almost 2,000 engineers who are working on models of both brands,” he said. “The new technologies will require an even greater number of engineers; we will need to work in closer contact with the startups to find new ideas. We intend to make innovations the vehicle for our future development.
In order to develop our cooperation with Skolkovo, we have to better understand how the Foundation works. After the Memorandum of Intentions is signed, it will be easier to move on in this fruitful project collaboration.
Nicolas Maure in Skolkovo, with Mikhail Tykuchinsky. Photo: Sk.ru
According to Mikhail Tykuchinsky, Director for Development of the Cluster of Energy Efficient Technologies, the Foundation has more than 400 technologies that AvtoVAZ can use in the product and manufacturing directions of its activities. “We are hopeful that cooperation with Russian small innovative companies and the creation of partnerships with them will allow AvtoVAZ to improve significantly the level of production localization,” he said.
According to autostat.ru, in December of 2018 AvtoVAZ signed a special investment contract with the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation to promote the development of Alliance brands – LADA, Renault, Nissan, Datsun and Mitsubishi – in Russia, as well as modernize its production capacities. To renew the LADA model lineup further, AvtoVAZ plans to produce 8 new models and complete 9 facelifts before 2026. One of the new vehicles of the new generation currently in the works is LADA 4x4 NG, which will hit the market in 2022 as the earliest. Additionally, AvtoVAZ has been working on restyling the LADA Largus wagon vehicle, which will go on sale in the next 2 to 3 years.