Insights into St Petersburg

The Likinsk Bus Factory (LiAZ)

The history of the factory is considered as starting on 2 August 1937, the day when in Likino-Dulevo, a small town near Moscow, a forestry wood processing plant started to work. In 1945 the plant was renamed the Likinsk Engineering Plant (LiMZ). It produced saws, locomotives, winches, and mobile power stations.

On 17 April 1958 a decree was issued according to which LiMZ (the Likinsk Engineering Plant) was transformed into LiAZ (the Likinsk Bus Factory): the national economy department was selected to arrange production of ZiL buses there. By that time, the Likhachev Factory (ZiL) was unable to cope with the production of both trucks and buses, so bus production was transferred to Likino, while ZIL was assigned truck production.

First of all, LiAZ was to arrange serial production of the bus ZIL-158. The first sample of the bus was produced at the Likhachev Factory (formerly named after Stalin, ZIS) in June 1956 and was tested on the 55th route, considered then as an exemplary one: it is there that all innovations were tested (for example, in November 1956 the French bus Chausson, the German Büssing and the Hungarian buses Ikarus-60 and Ikarus-66).

By the opening ceremony of the Youth and Students International Festival (July 1957) a special series of "festival" buses ZIL-158A had been issued with glazed side and rear pitches of the roof. Coaches were in demand for transporting festival participants. And although the Lvov Bus Factory significantly increased its production and the foreign coaches Austro-Fiat 5DN-120 and Skoda 706RTO were also purchased, most of the transport work was done by ZIL-158A. Thus, the model 158A was put into serial production earlier than the base model. The first serial bus ZIL-158 was seen in the streets of Moscow in October 1957. The Likhachev Plant carried on producing it until 1959.

The very first ZIL-158 bus of the Likinsk factory went on trial on 10 January 1959, and after that its mass production was launched. In 1961, as a part of the modernization process the bus was assigned the lable ZIL-158V. From 1961 to 1969, 7045 buses of the ZIL-158V model were produced. The last ZIL-158V was put out in 1970.

“My favorite thing when going somewhere was to jump into the front seat (there was a seat the full width of the cabin, along the driver’s barrier), to get on my knees and to look forward through the front window... And if the seat had already been taken - it was so disappointing. I stood nearby and watched for the moment when the seat became free.”
From the memoirs of a young passenger of a ZIL-158

Initially it was planned that LiAZ would produce all the models of ZiL buses, and therefore, along with documentation on the ZIL-158 family, all the papers on promising developments were brought, including the prototype city bus ZIL-159, assembled at ZIL at the end of 1959.

On the one hand, the ZIL-159 was a step forward compared to the ZIL-158. It differed from the latter in its rear-engined layout, three-row seating arrangement and increased availability of seats near the door. Driving became easier due to the installation of power steering and a more powerful compressor of the drive brake system. In general, engineering solutions felt the impact of the model LAZ-695. On the other hand, the bus suffered significant disadvantages. It was assumed that the design of the ZIL-159 would be appropriately modified, and its capacity would be increased up to 85-90 people, and then full-scale production would be started under the label LiAZ-675. However, the ZIL-159 never became more than a prototype...

“The bus currently available, the ZIL-158, does not meet needs of the national economy because of the lack of capacity and its design characteristics. It is time for the Likinsk Bus Factory to produce modern buses adapted to serving big city routes.”
From an article by V. Yudin, the director of the 1st bus depot,
in For a Great Trip newspaper, 1 February 1964

n the first half of 1962, the designing of a large bus was started and the model received the label LiAZ-677. It was tested repeatedly and in 1967 a setup party of the LiAZ-677 was assembled. In spring 1968, it was put into mass production. In 1978, after its modernization, the bus received the label LiAZ-677M. Later a number of small changes were made, but the LiAZ-677M was put out until 8 August 1994, when the pipeline for the LiAZ-677 was cut. All-in-all more than 200,000 buses of this model were produced.

In 1985, new large buses, the LiAZ-5256, were launched into production. When making the design, all the shortcomings of the previous model were taken into account. Serial production of the LiAZ 5256 began in 1988. In 1995, an updated line of buses, the LiAZ-5256, was launched, both for urban and suburban, intercity and tourist routes. These buses have been produced up to the present times.

Between 1991 and 1995 the factory went through a significant deterioration in performance which resulted in a financial crisis and production was suspended in 1996. Bankruptcy proceedings were initiated, and in 1997 external control was introduced, and finally the company went into receivership. However, the procedures were carried out in such a way that the area and the property of the bus factory, as well as its production base, were retained.

Today the Likinsk Bus Factory is a modern enterprise, well-equipped technologically for the serial production of large buses. LiAZ buses can be seen in the streets of Russian cities.