The direct links to 28 USSR/Russia Historical posts are below.
The start of a big scale overhaul of BSCB’s Historical Data, sales figures for the USSR and Russia have been updated with sales info kick-starting in 1970, Top 10 models for 1987 and 1988, imports data by model starting as early as 1996, detailed annual brands and models data from 1999 onwards, in addition to a monthly Top 25 models from January 2008 up to the present day without any interruption. Witness the birth of Lada with the 2101 launched in 1970, a localised version of the Fiat 124 that would survive under different body shapes and modernised designs until 2012. In the late eighties, the Lada 2106 fights it out with the Moskvich 2140 for the title of best-seller in the USSR.
Then, throughout the tumultuous fragmentation of the USSR in the nineties and from 1999 to 2008, the same valiant Lada, grouped under the Riva nameplate, would top the sales charts, albeit threatened by the Lada Samara in 2004, 2005 and 2008. It would manage a last pole position in 2010, a year when volumes were boosted by aggressive scrappage schemes to try and revive a market hit full frontal by the Global Financial Crisis (-49% in 2009). Then the Lada “Zhiguli” as it is fondly called at home, would finally pass the relay to the new Lada Granta in 2012.
A handful of other Ladas have managed to challenge the Riva supremacy to score sporadic wins over its last decade of life, such as the Lada Priora, best-seller in 2009 and 2012 and the Lada Kalina, most popular in 2011. Then it’s the turn of the Riva’s successor, the Lada Granta, to become the favourite of the Russian people in 2013, 2014 and 2015, while the Lada Vesta topped the charts in 2018. Strikingly, the Lada 2110 never managed an annual win even though it led the YTD order deep into 2003. Finally, it is entirely possible that the Lada Samara may have snapped a handful of annual wins between its launch in 1989 and 1998, however detailed models data is missing for this period.
The start of the 21st century is a fascinating period to follow in Russia: it is a time when foreign manufacturers have started penetrating the market. Originally allowed on March 16, 1988, car imports remain anecdotal for an entire decade, reaching only 17.000 in 1995 and 45.000 in 1999. Little would anyone know then that they would end up surging to over 2 million annual units in less than 10 years, helped by the implantation of a dozen foreign carmakers starting to produce locally. Foreigner share starts at 4.8% in 2000, 6.8% in 2001 (+51%), 9.8% in 2002 (+40%), 17.8% in 2003 (+97%), 28% in 2004 (+87%), 38% in 2005 (+51%) with the first foreign marque on the podium (Hyundai), 46.6% in 2006 and 71.4% in 2008 at a whopping 2.068.000 sales… That year in December, the Ford Focus was the first foreign nameplate to top the monthly Russian charts.
We would have to wait 6 years and November 2014 to see this happen again when the the Kia Rio took the lead of the monthly charts, but this time it wasn’t a freak event and the culmination of years of steady progression and spreading popularity in the rural areas of the country alongside the Hyundai Solaris that would find a fitting conclusion in 2016 when the Hyundai Solaris became the first foreign nameplate in at least 45 years – and possibly in Russian history – to top the annual sales charts, replaced in 2017 by the Kia Rio.
Chinese carmakers entered the Russian market with a bang in 2005 with Great Wall instantly selling over 4.000 units of its Deer SUV and Sailor pickup, but it has been a stop start rollercoaster ever since. Chery followed in 2006 with the Amulet, soaring to 39.000 sales and 1.7% at an estimated 16th place in 2007 – a score that no other Chinese manufacturer has approached since – but then crashing to less than 16.000 sales in 2008. Only Lifan, launched in 2008 in Russia, has also managed to crack the annual Top 20, twice: in 2016, 2017 and 2018 peaking at #19 in 2016 and 2017 and 1.2% share in 2016. And only Geely has also reached 1% share on the Russian market, in 2013, peaking at #23 in 2015.
USSR/Russia Historical Info:
Russia 1996-1998: Lada Riva, Samara and 2110 likely on top (including imports info)