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ZAZ or Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant (Ukrainian: ЗАЗ, Запорізький автомобілебудівельний завод, Russian: Запорожский автомобилестроительный завод - Zaporozhskyi avtomobilestroitelnyi zavod or Zaporozhskyi avtozavod) is the main automobile-manufacturer of Ukraine, based in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia. It is also known for its former mother company name, AvtoZAZ. In the first half of 2008 ZAZ manufactured 153,407 cars and commercial vehicles, a 29% increase from the same period in 2007.[1]



The company was initially a state works Kommunar, producing combine harvesters. In November 1958 the Soviet government decided to change profile and start production of small popular cars, changing the name to ZAZ - Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant in order to reflect the new profile[2]. The first car, designed in Moskvitch factory, was ZAZ-965 Zaporozhets and entered production in 1960[2]. From 1975 to 2002, the factory was a part of AvtoZAZ holding, which was transformed into joint-stock company in 1990s.

The models named "Zaporozhets" were powered by an air-cooled rear mounted V4 engine made by MeMZ (based in neighboring Melitopol'). The body of earlier models 965 was similar to the Fiat 600. The redesigned 966 and 968 looked more like a NSU Prinz. Despite low reliability and prestige of those cars, they have shown an unbeaten accessibility and popularity among Soviets, becoming the "car for pensioners and intellectuals". They were the cheapest Soviet-made cars. Quite a big number was produced in variants for disabled people, with modified steering[2].

Newer front wheel drive cars are based on model 1102 Tavria (1989-2007) and are powered by a water cooled, front mounted MeMZ engine and fall into micro-class.

When AvtoZAZ-Daewoo joint venture with Daewoo Motors was formed in 1998, ZAZ was assigned to the new company as a 50% share on behalf of AvtoZAZ. Daewoo Motors made large investments and established the production of its own models, while keeping and modernizing the native ZAZ brand. CKD kits of Daewoo Lanos started assembling the same year; at the same time, CKD assembly of a number of older VAZ models started.

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