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Russia March 2015: Only SUV sales resist in market down 43%

UAZ Patriot Russia March 2015UAZ Patriot sales are up 2% on March 2014.

* See the Top 25 best-selling models and Top 55 All-brands by clicking on the title *

The precarious state of the Russian new car market is reaching new lows in March: down 42.5% year-on-year to just 139,850 registrations, bringing the first quarter total to 383,691 units, down 36% on 2014. The  economic sanctions imposed on the country as a result of the Ukrainian crisis and a galloping inflation stuck at 17% both in February and March have combined to knock the market out of air. Faced with the prospect of losing money with each car sold in the country, a string of manufacturers are trimming their presence in Russia, some in very significant ways: Nissan (-51% in March) has suspended production in in St Petersburg plant for the entire second half of the month, Volkswagen (-57%) will do so for two weeks in May, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen (-79%) will halt the production of the Citroen C4 and Peugeot 408 from April 27 to July 7 and Mitsubishi (-68%) will stop production of the Outlander and Pajero Sport from April 27 to May 12.

Opel Russia March 2015. Picture courtesy zr.ruSunset: General Motors will stop selling the Opel brand in Russia by the end of 2015.

Most significantly of all, General Motors announced it will abandon local production by the end of 2015, with the Opel brand (-78% in March) exiting Russia and Chevrolet (-74%) reducing its lineup to “iconic” U.S.-built models such as the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. Reversely, Ford (-73%) has reiterated its focus on Russia and just kick started the St Petersburg production of the all-new Mondeo, one of 4 new models to be launched in the country by the American manufacturer in 2015. In this nightmarish context, the top selling brands are also among the ones that resist the best, confirming a trend towards ‘back to basics’ and ‘back to trusted’ that we have observed over the past few months that the declines have deteriorated. Local fare Lada is down ‘only’ 26% to a very strong 19.6% share, Hyundai is down 15% to 9.9%, Kia down 32% to 8.7%, Toyota is up two ranks on February and down 34% year-on-year to #4.

Datsun mi-DO Russia March 2015. Picture courtesy zr.ruThanks to the arrival of the mi-DO, Datsun is now the #11 brand in Russia.

The list of manufacturers receiving good news in March in Russia is thin: Datsun reaches the best ranking since its reintroduction as a low-cost brand, up to #11 with 3,502 sales and 2.5% share thanks to the gearing up of the mi-DO hatchback (989 units) while the on-DO sedan is still very strong at #14 and 2,513 deliveries. Mercedes only drops 3% on March 2015, resulting in a much-improved market share of 2.9%, Lexus is up 29% to 2,521 sales and Porsche up 27% to 520. Over in the models ranking, the Lada Granta sends a strong message with sales down just 4% to 12,438 units and 8.9% share. Only the Hyundai Solaris (8,593) and Kia Rio (7,176) manage to sell more than 1/3 of the Granta figure – all other nameplates are under 3% market share this month…

Nissan X-Trail Russia March 2015. Picture courtesy zr.ruThe Nissan X-Trail (+29%) replaces the Qashqai inside the Russian Top 25 in March.

Another very clear trend at play in Russia is the regain in interest towards SUVs: not all display good behaviour (the Renault Duster is down 58% for example), but the only non-new nameplates to lodge year-on-year gains in the Top 25 in March are all SUVs: the valiant Lada 4×4 (aka Niva) is up 6% to 5th place, the Nissan X-Trail is up 29% to #16 vs. #27 over FY2014 thanks to the new model, the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 makes a very impressive appearance at #21 thanks to sales up 9% on March 2014 and the UAZ Patriot is up 2% to #23.

Previous month: Russia February 2015: Market worsens down to -38%

One year ago: Russia March 2014: Mitsubishi Outlander breaks into Top 10

Full March 2015 Top 25 models and Top 55 All-brands below.

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