The factory was founded in 1916 as Avtomobilnoe Moskovskoe Obshchestvo (AMO, Russian Автомобильное Московское Общество (АМО)—Moscow Automotive Society). The plans were to produce Fiat F-15 1.5 ton trucks under license. Because of the October Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War it took until 1 November 1924 to produce the first vehicle, the AMO-F-15. In 1931 the factory was re-equipped and expanded with the help of the American A.J. Brandt Co., changed its name to Automotive Factory No. 2 Zavod Imeni Stalina (ZIS or ZiS). After Nikita Khrushchev denounced the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin in 1956, the name was changed again to Zavod Imeni Likhacheva, after its former director Ivan Alekseevich Likhachev.
ZiL lanes—road lanes dedicated to vehicles carrying top Soviet officials—were named after the car.
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