The first Lada models were equipped with a starting handle in case the battery went flat in Siberian conditions, though this was later dropped.Another feature specifically intended to help out in cold conditions was a manual auxiliary fuel pump.
Under the original agreement with Fiat, the car could not be sold in competition with the 124 until its replacement (the Fiat 131 Mirafiori) had been released and all Fiat production of the 124 had ceased.
Engines fitted to the original Ladas start with the 1.2 L carubretted in the original and go up to the 1.7 L export model set up with a General Motors single point fuel injection system.
Diesel engines were later fitted for the domestic market only.
Avto VAZ's majority owner is Alliance Rostec Auto BV with 74.5%, which is a joint venture of the Renault-Nissan Alliance with 67.1% and Russian company Rostec with the remainder, Avto VAZ produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Kalina family (hatchback, wagon and crossover), Lada Granta family (sedan and liftback), Lada Priora family (sedan, hatchback, wagon and coupe), Lada 4x4 (former Lada "Niva") and Lada Largus (Automobile Dacia platform), as well as the cars of Renault-Nissan alliance brands: Renault Logan II, Renault Sandero II, Datsun on-Do and Datsun mi-Do (the Nissan sub-brand), and Nissan Almera New.
The VAZ factory is the largest car manufacturer in Russia and Eastern Europe It was set up as a collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union and built on the banks of the Volga River in 1966.
A new town, Tolyatti, named after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, was built around the factory.The Lada was envisaged as a "people's car" like the Citroën 2CV or the VW Type 1.Production was intended to be 220,000 cars a year, beginning in 1971; car production actually began before the plant was finished in 1970.Among many changes, aluminium brake drums were added to the rear, and the original Fiat engine was dropped in favour of a newer design also purchased from Fiat.This new engine had a modern overhead camshaft design, but was never used in Fiat cars.The suspension was raised to clear rough Russian roads and the bodyshell was made from thicker, heavier steel.