In the former U.S.S.R. ZIL was the state limousine, which was built exclusively for top-ranking members of the Russian Communist Party. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the old ZILs were used only on special occasions when the Russian president was involved. Soon, it became clear that they will have to change the old ZIL fleet, and thus, the Cortage (Motorcade) project was born.
The name Aurus came from the chemical symbol of gold (Au) and Russia (Rus). The development of the new vehicle began when Marussia Motors (Russian sports carmaker) and NAMI (The State Research Center of the Russian Federation) started a design competition named "A car for the President." The result was an intriguing project, a mix between a classic ZIL and a Chrysler 300C, which was further refined.
The Aurus Saga continued with intensive research done at NAMI to develop a new platform, allowing the construction of a sedan, a limousine, an SUV, and a minivan. These cars were meant to be used by the State Duma (Russian Parliament) and the Russian security and protection service. ZIL was not able to build the car since it stopped producing passenger vehicles for almost a decade, and ever since, they only built trucks. A new company was needed to start from scratch.
With some help from Porsche, the final platform was developed, and the car's design was refined by Yuri Chernenko, Aurus' head of the design department. He stated that the vehicle's look was finished after extended researches with potential customers, while the inspiration vehicle was the 1945 ZIS-110 used for the top Russian Communist Party leaders, which was in turn inspired by Packard. To develop the new lineup, NAMI employed Vadim Pereverzev, who had previously worked at FIAT for 15 years, as a chief designer of the Aurus project.
For the production, NAMI asked the Sollers factory specializing in vehicle production to set up the assembly lines for the first Aurus vehicles. The project, which started in 2013, was already closer to the final stage, and the research company focused on the limousine and the minivan more while freezing the SUV project. Also, the carmaker stated that it started to develop a crossover based on the same EMP platform used for the Senat and the Arsenal (the MPV).
The work for the first vehicles continued and, in 2017, the Russian president tested a limousine. Soon after that, the Russian Federal Security Service ordered 16 vehicles. Since the serial assembly plant was not ready, NAMI started to hand-built them and, by the end of that year, it delivered 14 units. In May 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at the inauguration in a Senat Limousine.
On May 23rd, 2018, the Aurus brand was presented in Moscow and marked the Russian carmaker's birthdate. In the same year, the Tawazun company from the United Arab Emirates became the first investor in the Aurus brand, investing EUR 110 million in the project. By that time, the production location was already established at Alabuga, and at the beginning of 2019, the Aurus LLC carmaker stakeholders were announced: NAMI – 63%, Sollers – 0.5%, and Tawzun with the rest of the 35.5%.
In March 2019, at the Geneva International Motor Show, Aurus unveiled the Senat S600 sedan and the L700 Limousine. The new luxury brand attracted a large crowd around them. Their size and luxury features, developed mostly by NAMI, stood apart from other cars from the show. But soon, Toyota, Michelin, and Lamborghini claimed against the brand name since it was too close to the Auris nameplate, Taurus tire brand (owned by Michelin), and the Urus (Lamborghini SUV). Later on, Lamborghini withdrew its claim.
Apart from the Aurus cars, the Russian company worked on other luxury-oriented vehicles such as custom-made helicopters and even an electric motorcycle.