YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The "YERAZ" Yerevan car company will increase its production volume two-fold in 1998–said YERAZ president Hamlet Harutyunian. 150 cars for a total of $800-1.2 million will be produced.
The company has been redesigning–modifying and producing cars since 1995.
"The only problem is the lack of working capital. That is why we sometimes owe our clients. Even though we fulfilled our obligations before the pension fund and state budget for the first quarter this year–in recent years the plant accumulated debts in total of $450,000. In the past six to seven years–due to a lack of finances–the plant was not heated in winter time and therefore was not able to function–because technological processes cannot be performed in low temperatures," he said.
According to Harutyunian–even though the plant is working for only 20-25 percent of its capacity–it has no problems with realization. YERAZ-made cars are in big demand in Armenia which consumed more than 50 percent of its production. The remaining 50 percent was exported to Georgia–the Northern Caucasus–and southern regions of Russia.
According to Harutyunian–YERAZ is the only car company in the Transcaucasus–Caucasus and southern regions of Russia which can easily sell 500 cars a year. Its models meet international standards–he said.
Since the plant has made public its search of partners–General Motors–Nuindai–as well as Nizhni Novgorod have shown interest. Harutyunian noted that it would be easy to organize production of new models at the plant. Despite all difficulties of the past years–the plant has preserved all means necessary for production.
Spare parts and raw materials are mainly imported from Russia. According to Harutyunian–growth of production volumes at YERAZ will provide permanent work for at least seven plants in Armenia.
YERAZ employs 450 people–which is 40-45 percent of all staff. The average salary is 16,000 drams ($32). Harutyunian said they hoped to raise the salary to 22,000 drams this year.
During the Soviet era–YERAZ produced 70 cars every day.