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The Russian new car market situation is rapidly escalating to become catastrophic: -38% year-on-year in February to just 128,298 registrations which brings the year-to-date total to 243,826 units, down 32% on 2014. Russia is facing an unprecedented mix of economic sanctions due to the Ukrainian crisis, a 50% devaluation of the ruble against the dollar in the past 6 months and inflation rising from 9% in December 2014 to 17% in February 2015, with Moscow shopkeepers now repricing goods daily. Forecasts for the Russian market to drop 27% over the Full Year 2014 are now starting to appear a little optimistic. Manufacturers active in the country are starting to take drastic measures in accordance with the situation: for example Opel will idle its local factory for two months starting at the end of March.
Both the lower and the higher end of the market are benefitting from these troubled times: new car buyers are downgrading, and the wealthier end of the population is rushing to buy premium brands before prices increase further. Lastly and similarly to Western Europe, SUVs are less hit than other segments. More affordable, national manufacturer Lada is doing slightly better than the market at -24% to 23,629 sales in February. The Granta reclaims the top spot it had lost to the Hyundai Solaris in January thanks to 10,583 deliveries (-6%), the 4×4 (aka Niva) is up an impressive 20% to #4: Russian buyers are going back to basics and crown the 38 year-old vehicle as the best-selling SUV in the country this month, the Largus is back up 15 spots on January to #5 and the Priora is back up 9 to #8. This means there are 3 Ladas in the Top 5 for the first time in two years.
Korean carmakers Hyundai (-5%) and Kia (-6%), while in negative territory, frankly outperform the market in 2nd and 3rd place respectively with 10.3% and 9.8% share. The next four manufacturers implode: Nissan (-45%), Renault (-46%), Toyota (-40%) and Volkswagen (-49%) all fall faster than the market, but Skoda at #8 fares much better at -12%. Rounding up the Top 10 are two big surprises: not only are Mercedes and BMW not down year-on-year, they are significantly up: at +18% and +57% respectively despite 20% price hikes at the start of 2015. In fact Lexus (+11%) and Porsche (+119%) are the only two other manufacturers up inside the Top 40.
Out of the 6 brands launched in Russia over the past 12 months, once again Datsun is the only one really making a mark this month, although it is down two spots on January to #14 with 2,904 sales and 2.3% share, despite the arrival of the mi-DO hatchback (289 sales). The on-DO slips out of the Top 10, down 5 ranks to a still extremely impressive 13th place with 2,615 deliveries and 2% share. The next best-selling new coming brand is Chinese Brilliance at #40 and just 0.1% market share… Not good times to break ground in Russia at the moment, granted.
In the models ranking, the Toyota Camry is up 3 spots on last month to reach #9, the Hyundai ix35 breaks into the Russian Top 10 for the very first time (previous best: #12 last June), and in a clear demonstration of the trend towards ever more SUVs on Russian roads, the last 5 spots of the Top 25 all belong to this segment: the Nissan Juke is up to #20 and earns a spot in the year-to-date Top 25, and is followed by the Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Sorento up 171% year-on-year to 1,329 sales.
Previous month: Russia January 2015: Hyundai Solaris hits #1 in market down 24%
Full February 2015 Top 53 All-brands and Top 25 models Ranking Tables below.