GAZ Next CNG - next CNGeneration
Russian-made vehicles (be it trucks, buses or passenger cars) are few and far between on the roads of European Union countries these days, because they lag behind when it comes to complying to EU emission and active/passive safety standards, but that doesn't mean cars are no longer produced in Russia. They are, and local manufacturers do their best to improve their products and make them more up-to-date. Among them is GAZ (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod), a brand with decades of tradition in building anything from Volga passenger cars to medium-duty trucks. Their latest offer consists of two new models presented during the Ros-Gas-Expo fair in Sankt Petersburg in early October, 2014.
The first one is a thorough update of the light delivery vehicle going by the name of GAZelle. It features a new 2,7-litre Evotech CNG engine built at a plant in Ulyanovsk. The unit is Euro 5-compliant, so in theory the natural gas-powered GAZelle could enter EU markets, since the Euro 6 standard for LCV's won't go into operation before September, 2015, but since the vehicle isn't going to enter production before mid-2015, chances for conquering Europe are slim.
Anyhow, the GAZelle features four CNG tanks on board (52 l gross capacity each), which is enough to provide a driving range of approx. 300 km. A full-sized petrol tank remains in place, boosting overall range to 700 km, and switching over from one fuel to the other is as easy as pressing a button on the dashboard. A CNG level gauge is also located there.
The GAZon, one clas bigger than the GAZelle, is also powered by a brand new engine, this time a type 534 CNG unit from the YaMZ engine production facility, developed in cooperation with Canadian methane engine specialist Westport. It too is Euro 5-compliant and it draws fuel from 7 CNG bottles (52 l gross capacity each) providing a range of 370 km. The truck's looks are rather distant from modern (in fact, it looks like a heavily facelifted GAZ 51 truck of yore, plus it features old-fashioned wheel rims), but the Russian market isn't as demanding as the EU, so all in all it's more than decent. Especially if GAZ has no plans as far as introducing the vehicle outside the post-USSR countries is concerned.
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