Truck Stop International, The Russians are coming

7 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 19, 2016

Battered 1970s Ural 4320 6×6 still going strong in Russian lumber transportation

This gasoline-powered model was a 2.5 tonne 4×2 drive rigid truck. In 1961 UralAZ, as it was then called, introduced the Ural 375, a 6×6 five tonne offroad truck. It featured a new V8 diesel engine and heralded a new era in which Ural became a respected truck manufacturer.

By the end of the 1960s UralAZ had produced 530,000 truck chassis, and 1.3 million engines. In 1981 the new longnosed 5920 model 6×6 was presented. This eight tonne capacity truck could also be fitted with a Caterpillar diesel engine. From 1992 the six tonne Ural 4322 6×6 was sporting a new cab and equipped with a Deutz aircooled V8 engine of 234hp, which was built under licence by KHD in Germany.

In the same year UralAZ began a collaboration with Iveco. Not long after, new models appeared with Iveco diesel engines, chassis and cabs fitted. Deutz and Kamaz engines were also still listed, as well as Eaton-Fuller transmissions. After the collapse of the Soviet-Union the production of Ural off-road trucks aimed at military duties plummeted to only 2500 chassis in 1998. As a consequence, soon after the company went bankrupt. During the following years Ural is said to have produced trucks under an administrator.

About 2001 the well-known GAZ Group came into the picture. This large producer of light to medium trucks and buses took over what was left of UralAZ.

In the meantime, the joint venture between Iveco and UralAZ had taken a separate path and evolved well. In 2009 the name of this subsidiary company was changed to ‘Iveco-AMT‘ with headquarters in Miass. Today GAZ-UralAZ and Iveco-AMT are totally unrelated.

The GAZ Group is currently the largest producer of commercial vehicles in Russia. In the light vehicle segment they hold 50% of the market, in the bus segment 80%, and the all-wheel drive heavy-duty trucks 33%. The GAZ Group consists of 13 plants in eight Russian regions.

In 2013 a completely new range of GAZelle NEXT vans and light duty vehicles was introduced. The range takes advantage of modern technology, with a high level of active and passive safety features, and excellent ergonomics. The simplicity of design, reliability, and suitability for intensive use in difficult road conditions (for which Russian commercial vehicles have become famous) is also seen in the new products. 

Since 2015 the range has incorporated drop-side trucks, crew cab versions, panel vans and a microbus. Larger buses are also produced. The truck division is made up of the GAZon NEXT medium-duty truck and the Ural NEXT heavy-duty truck.

The new generation GAZon is designed for a payload capacity up to five tonnes and a GVW of 8.7 tonnes. There is a choice of two bonneted cabs; the standard three-seater and the crew cab seating up to seven people. Like the heavy-duty trucks it is designed for operation on rough roads and under extreme weather conditions.

The NEXT family of medium-duty trucks are built using systems and components produced by leading global suppliers such as Delphi, Wabco, Tenneco and ZF. Power comes from a modern YAMZ-534 diesel engine that turns out 150hp. The medium-duty series also includes a compressed natural gas powered version.

In 2014 the traditional heavy-duty bonneted and cabover trucks in both 4×4 and 6×6 configuration were updated and relaunched as the M-series. More than 50 changes and technical improvements were introduced on this proven range for civilian and military duties. In 2015, a new generation of bonneted Ural NEXT heavy-duty tucks was introduced.

The first model featured was a 6×6 and had a 10 tonne payloadcapacity. Power comes from a newly designed YAMZ 536 diesel engine developing 312hp at 2300 rpm. The six-cylinder inline engine has common rail direct injection and meets Euro 4 and Euro 5 emission regulations. It is coupled to a mechanical nine-speed ZF transmission with Ural two-speed transfer box and inter-axle differential lock. The heaviest model in the NEXT 6×6 range has a payload capacity of 13 tonnes.

There is also a 4×4 drive version with a YAMZ engine rated at 240hp and a five-speed YAMZ mechanical gearbox. All off-road trucks boast excellent ‘go-anywhere‘ mobility achieved through full-time all-wheel drive, central tyre inflation, and locking differentials in the transfer box.

The well-built, comfortable and roomy cab was designed in conjunction with GAZ.

The M-series range is aimed at the oil and gas sector, timber industry, construction, etc. The heavy-duty conventional and cabover models are available with 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 drive and are good for a GVW of 13 to 34 tonnes. All Ural vehicles are able to operate at an altitude of 4500m above sea level and at temperatures of between -50 to +50 Celsius. They can even wade through snow banks of one-metre-high and ford 1.75-metre-deep rivers, quite an achievement compared with your average highway cruiser!

Top: Neatly restored Ural-Zis 355 from the late 40s.
Below Top: The traditional Iveco-Fiat cabbed M-family of 6×6 and 8×8 trucks received a facelift in 2014.