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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

KamAZ Chooses Cummins Diesel

KamAZ, Russia's biggest truck manufacturer, has chosen the U. S. engine-maker Cummins Diesel as the partner for a new factory which will make 50, 000 truck engines a year to replace the plant which KamAZ lost in a devastating fire in April.

Tatyana Kolesnikova, a spokesperson for Cummins in Moscow, said Thursday that the joint venture that will require an investment of about $300 million will start producing the Cummins engines in Russia in 1996.

The Russian trucking industry was thrown into disarray by a fire that caused about $1 billion in damage to KamAZ's huge truck plant at Naberezhnye Chelny in Tatarstan, 800 kilometers from Moscow.

With its entire engine and transmission works destroyed, KamAZ was forced to look for a foreign partner both to supply it with engines and invest in reconstructing local production.

Kolesnikova said that the new engine will modernize KamAZ's existing trucks, both for export and for domestic market.

It will also be used in a new heavier truck, which would meet European standards.

Vladimir Vyalegzhanin, deputy general director of KamAZ, said in a telephone interview Thursday that until the new engine plant is constructed, Cummins will supply KamAZ with the bulk of the engines for the 90, 000 long-haul trucks it makes a year. He said Cummins had already supplied the first 250 engines.

The agreement with Cummins comes after a five-month search by KamAZ, which ranged over the entire diesel-engine industry.

KamAZ received proposals from firms in the United States, Europe and Japan including U. S. -based Caterpillar and the German firm Mercedes.

A Czech engine producer, Liaz, won a minor contract in July to supply 7, 500 engines to KamAZ in 1993-1994.

Later in July, sources from KamAZ and Mercedes-Benz of Germany indicated the two companies were close to signing an agreement to supply engines to KamAZ. But KamAZ chairman Nikolai Bekh dismissed the information as "premature".

Cummins Diesel, the world's biggest independent engine manufacturer, started with an advantage, however. KamAZ and Cummins had already set up an engine marketing and service joint-venture, KamDiesel, at the Tatarstan plant in 1991 to develop a KamAZ truck with a Cummins diesel engine.

KamDiesel planned to produce 20, 000 Cummins engines a year by the late 1990s, but the loss of capacity at KamAZ caused the parties to accelerate up the pace of the project.

"After the fire in April, it turned out that KamAZ needed much more engines and much quicker", said Kolesnikova.

Before the fire hit the plant, KamAZ manufactured 230, 000 engines and transmissions per year, equipping not only KamAZ but also other Russian trucks, such as Ural and ZiL.

Vyalegzhanin of KamAZ said that the firm plans to restore about half of its old capacity by the end of 1994 from its own resources. He said that the new KamAZ-Cummins plant would handle the rest.

Vyalegzhanin said that the truck manufacturer is also planning to launch production of its own new engine in 1993.

He said the Western equipment, is arriving in October for the production of up to 50, 000 KamAZ-developed engines annually.