On June 21, the main results of the visit of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to the KamAZ plant in Naberezhnye Chelny became known: he instructed to allocate subsidies to the auto concern from the budget to “support the activities, as well as implement plans for its development.” The money will go to modernize production and develop a new model range.
It is not entirely clear why the state should help KamAZ, which was profitable in 2020 and even reduced its debt burden from 8.2 to 5.8 net debt / EBITDA. The company explains its needs by “the scale of transformations, comparable only to the construction of a new modern production”, as well as “the creation of new modern directions, such as electric and unmanned vehicles”, which does not allow them to be implemented “without attracting investment funds, including state “.
Neither the government nor KamAZ speaks about the amount of funds in question. But at the end of 2019, when Vladimir Putin came to the plant, KamAZ asked 50 billion rubles from the budget. until 2023. According to rumors, it was planned to raise funds from the differentiation of compensation for waste collection depending on the level of localization, that is, they would be paid by buyers of passenger cars of such brands as, for example, Volkswagen, Nissan and Toyota. But a pandemic began, and KamAZ never received the money.
My interlocutors in the industry are perplexed as to why KAMAZ is entitled to subsidies. Firstly, in recent years, it was not customary in the automotive industry to distribute budget money “just like that” and on an individual basis. Secondly, KamAZ is asking for money not for new, technologically complex projects like hydrogen transport, but for localization obligations that other market participants have as well. That is, it turns out that KamAZ will carry out them at the expense of the state, and the rest – independently.
There is nothing innovative in the projects proposed by KamAZ, one of my sources says venomously: for example, Mikhail Mishustin was presented with a light commercial truck based on the cabin of the Chinese JAC. “When a company realizes that it can spend, since the state compensates for everything, it discourages both it and the industry,” says another interlocutor.
Most likely, KamAZ was asking for funds under the sauce “the president instructed us to make a hydrogen bus, everything goes to that”. But it is one thing to support an innovative project with infusions, which corresponds to the state policy on the introduction of environmentally friendly transport, or, in extreme cases, an image-oriented project like Aurus. And it is quite another to provide public funds for what everyone in the industry is doing, upsetting the competitive balance.