Lada will return to Western Europe in 2004 with a new version of the Niva 4x4 being developed in a joint venture with General Motors.
However, GM is considering dropping the Lada badge in a bid to minimise possible negative consumer and media perceptions that could damage the car's success. GM has a number of options from its portfolio of brand names, although David Herman, president of GM Russia, ruled out using Opel or Chevrolet, the name that will be used in Russia. Daewoo is a possibility if GM succeeds in buying the South Korean carmaker as expected. Fiat is another likely contender after its plans to build in Russia as part of a joint venture with troubled AvtoVaz stalled. The carmaker recently dropped plans to produce a small 4x4 based on the Pininfarina-designed and built Mitsubishi Pinin in Italy. Mr Herman confirmed that Fiat's 1.9-litre diesel engine will be used for export Niva cars together with Opel/Vauxhall 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines. GM has been responsible for ride, handling and quality improvements in the Niva as well as helping AvtoVaz achieve European engine emission targets – the reason the carmaker had to withdraw from Western Europe. (September 13, 2001)