Gaz will soon introduce the new Valdai truck in the Russian market.
Story by Fedor Lapshin

Named after an upland region in the north-west of central Russia and about midway between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, spanning Leningrad, Novgorod, Tver, Pskov, and Smolensk Oblasts, the Valdai Hills is home to diverse flora and fauna. It attracts tourists and is home to historical cities of Ostashkov and Valday. Home to many fresh water lakes as well, which are fed by the melting glaciers from up north, the Valdai Hills are set to extend their name to yet another significant product from the GAZ stable. To make an appearance this autumn, the GAZ Valdai follows in the footstep of a similar named truck that was produced from 2005 till 2015. A medium-class flat bed truck with a GVW of five-tonnes, the early models were produced in association with MAZ. With the Minsk residents refusing to supply their GAZ type MAZ-5336 after the economic collapse of the late 1990s, GAZ took to develop its own cabin to fit on the chassis that it produced at Nizhny Novgorod. The cabin would later come to support the Gazelle line of light and medium-duty trucks because of their modern architecture.

 


Showcased as a four-tonner in 1999 at the Moscow International Automobile Salon, the Valdai, beginning production in 2005, turned out to be popular model with reversed front suspension, the introduction of new front and rear axles, low-profile tyres and a pneumatic braking system that was refined to include an ABS. Subject to an entire set of design modifications in terms of modernising it, the Valdai, with a low-loading height (1000 mm), comfortable suspension, an advanced braking system, and an economical diesel engine, sold in good numbers. If its choice of multiple engines (a diesel MMZ D-245.7, a gas (Steyr)-562, a Cummins 3.9 140 CIV and an IVECO-8143) over time made it popular, the Valdai also sprang an experimental version (GAZ-43483) with a reinforced chassis (8.5-tonnes GVW) and a cabin designed for long-distance transport. Leading to the creation of a chassis for prospective models of small buses, the Valdai was replaced by the Gazon range of CVs in 2016.


Not ready to give up, the new Valdai is set to further strengthen GAZ’s position in the Russian commercial vehicle market. It is all-new and has no connection whatsoever with the earlier Valdai whose name it borrows or the Gazon which followed. Unique about the new Valdai is the Chinese connection instead. The truck with a GVW of 6.7-tonnes will used cab from Foton. A look at the early images of the Valdai and its forward-control cabin has an uncanny resemblance to a Foton truck of similar GVW. Powered by a Cummins 2.8-litre diesel engine (sourced from China) mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the new Valdai will borrow some components or aggregates from the Gazon Next. If that would make it suitable for overloading, the new Valdai would be equipped with ESP, a powerful heating mechanism to help withstand the Russian winter, an air-conditioner as an option, and an engine pre-heater.
The GVW of 6.7-tonnes would present the new Valdai with a payload capacity of about 3.7-tonnes. This would mean its effective positioning between the Gazelle Next (whose heavy version is specified at 4.6-tonnes GVW) and the Gazon Next (specified at 8.7-tonnes GVW). Aiming at a segment that is quite competitive with the domination of Asian CV brands like Hyundai, Fuso, Hino and Foton, the new Valdai has work cut out for itself. If it is ironic that the Foton-borrowed cabin looks inspired by the Renault Maxity, Nissan Cabstar, Hyundai Mighty, the Valdai will offer with it a premise of a sturdy Russian machine that is hard to break. With GAZ’s image and infrastructure in Russia, the new Valdai is all set to change the perception of the market that was until recently dominated by a number of Asian brands.
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CV is an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY). As part of this association, the magazine provides exclusive articles, written especially by IToY jury members.

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