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As predicted last month in the wake of another drop in the value of the Ruble, the Russian new car market returns to abysmal decline rates in September at -29% to 140.867 registrations, pulling the year-to-date total down 33% to 1.192.723 vs. 1.779.961 over the same period a year ago. Homegrown carmaker Lada falls much faster than the market once again at -41% to 21.658 sales and 15.4%, just four percentage points above shining star Kia, up a mesmerising 11% to an all-time record 11.4% market share, up from 7.4% a year ago. This means Kia is now also #2 year-to-date with a round 10% market share, edging past stablemate Hyundai, also impressive in September at -2% to 10.7% share. Within the Top 10, Volkswagen (-23%), GAZ (-15%) and most impressively Ford (-9%) gain market share year-on-year, the latter ranking at an excellent 9th place with 3.4% share vs. #14 and 2.2% so far in 2015.
As improbable at it may seem in such a dark context, a handful of brands manage to improve their volume year-on-year: UAZ benefits from an all-SUV lineup and is up 13%, Audi is up 2%, Geely up 30% – cementing its newfound status of #1 Chinese manufacturer in Russia, Mercedes Vans is up 54% and Porsche more than doubles its sales vs. a year ago thanks to the addition of the Macan at +119%. Datsun (#17) is off-limits as it celebrates one year of presence in the market. On the other end of the performance scale, Mitsubishi (-52%), Suzuki (-54%), Chery (-58%), Citroen (-59%), Honda, Peugeot (-62%), Subaru (-64%), Opel (-72%), Jeep (-80%), Great Wall (-83%) and Ssangyong (-91%) all implode.
In the models ranking, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and declare the implacable domination of Lada on the Russian sales charts is well and truly over after starting 45 years ago in 1970 with the Lada 2101, the carmaker’s first model. In September and for the 4th time in the past 5 months, the Hyundai Solaris is the best-selling nameplate in Russia thanks to sales up 10% year-on-year to 11.006 and 7.8% vs. 5.1% a year ago. The Kia Rio is up one spot on August to rank #2 with deliveries up an incrediuble 70% on a year ago to 10.822 and a record 7.7% share vs. just 3.2% in September last year. Both models easily outsell the Lada Granta, down a devastating 49% to 8.597 sales and 6.1% share. The Granta only owes its 2015 year-to-date pole position to scrappage scheme-boosted scores in March and June. At the current rate, the Granta should keep the lead in the Full Year, but just. 2016 will be another ballgame altogether.
This ‘Korean revolution’ was the subject of a full-blown article in Russia’s #1 car magazine/website Za Rulem, quoting BestSellingCarsBlog analysis, and it all happened in less than a year: only last November the Kia Rio was the first foreign model to rank #1 in Russia. If you are a long-term BSCB reader, the astonishing progression of the Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio over the past five years isn’t a surprise, and definitely not a freak event. My 2013 Trans-Siberian coverage brought to light the exceptional regularity of both the Solaris and the Rio in every corner of the country, from Tatarstan to far-East Siberia and Lake Baïkal. This success was built on word-of-mouth from rural regions to the bigger towns, and is the result of meticulous dealer network expansion across the largest country in the world by both Korean manufacturers.
In other model news, the VW Polo takes advantage of a solid month (-5%) to overtake the Renault Logan year-to-date and rank at a best-ever 4th place, while the Lada Largus is in a similar situation (-6%), passing its stablemate the Lada Kalina to rank #7 YTD. The Chevrolet Niva impresses at +2% and #10, the Hyundai ix35 jumps back up 27 ranks to #14 (no sign of the new Tucson yet in Russia), the UAZ Patriot shoots up 22% to a splendid 16th place, the Mazda CX-5 is up 1% to #19 and the Toyota Prado brilliantly breaks into the Russian Top 20 for the very first time thanks to deliveries up 20% to 1.797.
Previous month: Russia August 2015: Hyundai Solaris outsells Lada Granta again
Full September 2015 Top 54 All-brands and Top 25 models below.