Ural to shift production from Russia to Kazakhstan as sanctions over war bites

Ural Motorcycles is forced to abandon its production facility in Russia in favour of a move to neighbouring Kazakhstan after sanctions hamper supply of parts

Vladimir Putin - Ural Motorcycles

Renowned Russian sidecar-motorcycle manufacturer IMZ-Ural has announced it is shifting production to a new facility in Kazakhstan amid difficulties sourcing new parts in the sanction-gripped nation.

One of Russia’s most recognisable automotive creations, the Ural sidecar-equipped motorcycles have earned their place in folklore since the company was founded in 1941, not least when President Vladimir Putin was photographed riding one on a visit to Crimea in 2019.

Unfortunately for IMZ-Ural, it is Putin’s brutal waging of war in neighbouring Ukraine - which has to date has led to more than 14,000 civilian deaths since fighting broke out in February 2022 - that is forcing it to leave its homeland after 80 years in an effort to skirt issues getting hold of parts.

Indeed, with strict international sanctions severely hampering supply chains and sending Russia’s economy into a tailspin, with Ural importing 80 per cent of its components from overseas, it says it has no choice but to find an alternative base.

As such, Ural - which builds around 1200 of its motorcycles each year - will abandon its facility in Irbit in favour of a new assembly line some 600km away in Petropavlovsk, situated in northern Kazakhstan. 

“We spent 20 years inserting ourselves into the global economy,” Ilya Khait, CEO of IMZ-Ural. “It was a very lengthy, difficult, and costly process of moving away from the Soviet-style factory in Irbit, which did everything in-house and didn’t do it very well, to becoming more modern and purchasing the best components for [our products].”