Global Update

10 Facts About the Russian Car Market You Need to Know

The specialty market in Russia is quite new. According to Fedor Svinin of the Saint Petersburg-based Tuning Inomarka Magazine, the market is only a little more than a decade old, noting that, “we may say that the tuning business started in our country in the late ’90s.” But as the market comes back from a near standstill due to the drying up of credit and an economic crisis, sales are once again growing rapidly and luxury SUV sales are one of the fastest-growing segments.

Listed below are some facts about the Russian market.

  1. Huge potential for growth: with only 190 vehicles for every 1,000 Russians (compared to 800 vehicles per 1,000 U.S. citizens), this market of 140 million is far from saturated.
  2. Industry experts see strong vehicle sales in the next decade: The Association of European Businesses (AEB) expects Russian annual car sales in 2011 to reach 2.3 million units (up from 1.9 million in 2010) and then a complete return to pre-crisis levels of 2.9 million units during 2012. Looking longer term, the Boston Consulting Group estimates that the annual sales volume will grow to 4 million units by 2018.
  3. The Boston Consulting Group recently predicted that Russia will be the sixth-largest global auto market by 2020, up from its current 10th place position.
  4. Russia should overtake Germany before the end of the decade to become Europe’s largest market. Industry experts had predicted this would occur back in 2009, but it was derailed due to the economic crisis.
  5. The Ford Focus was the best-selling foreign model in 2010 with sales of 67,000 units. Ford will start Russian production of the new-generation Focus later this year and will be one of four markets (along with the United States, Germany and China) to produce the new European-designed focus.
  6. GM sales in Russia in 2010 increased 12.4% to 160,000 vehicles: In the 1Q 2011, Chevrolet's top five European markets in terms of sales were Russia (31,003 cars), Uzbekistan (27,465 cars), Italy (8,112 cars), France (7,155 cars) and Germany (5,866 cars). Chevrolet continues to be a top-selling non-domestic brand in Russia, with a market share of 6.2%. Chevrolet was the most popular non-domestic brand in Russia for the fourth year in a row, with sales of 116,233 vehicles and 6.2% market share.
  7. Approximately 36% of the cars sold in Russia were imported in 2010, and 33% of those manufactured in Russia were foreign brands.
  8. Smaller, low-cost cars increased sales by 41.7%, selling a total of 306,118 units, according to JATO Dynamics. An ongoing scrappage plan spurred on the growth of these smaller-sized vehicles. JATO noted that larger, luxury cars also had a good year with the large and executive segment increasing 50.9% and luxury SUVs up 34.1% vs. 2009. Last year, 385,760 SUVs were sold, according to JATO.
  9. One of the biggest opportunities for SEMA members is products for SUVs, according to three Russian-based enthusiast journalists, though all of the journalists noted that pickups and, thus, products for these vehicles, are not much in demand.
  10. Wheels are the most visible element of exterior design, and guys here in Russia love big wheels, noted a journalist from Maxi Tuning Russia.

For more information on SEMA resources in selling to 95% of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, contact Linda Spencer at