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Kyrgyzstan 2013: Toyota, Honda & Mercedes top used market

Toyota Camry Kyrgyzstan June 2013. Picture courtesy of zr.ruThe Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in Kyrgyzstan, most of them used though.

Next country to be dusted off as I haven’t covered it in almost 3 years is Kyrgyzstan. What is striking when viewing recent videos of the streets of the capital Bishkek is the complete absence of new cars, to such an extent where I wondered whether all these videos were actually taken in the late nineties/early noughties… There are a few explanations to this madness. Firstly, contrary to neighbouring Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, current legislation in Kyrgyzstan allows right-hand cars to be imported and used in the country. This means used Japanese cars can be imported directly from the source.

Kyrgyzstan marketMarket in At-Bašy, Kyrgyzstan. Picture by Böltürük (Trondheim), all rights reserved.

Secondly, the country’s political instability – ethnic conflicts, revolts, economic troubles and the April 2010 revolution that overthrew the president – have prevented international car manufacturers to establish a dealership network in Kyrgyzstan. The American Embassy in Kyrgyzstan reported that in 2008 only Hyundai, Lada and Mitsubishi had certified dealers in the country. In fact, Toyota only opened a representative office in Bishkek in April 2012, and launched the Hilux in Kyrgyzstan in December of that year.

Bishkek. Picture courtesy of FlickrBishkek streets are filled with 1990s second hand Mercedes. Picture by neilbeer, all rights reserved.

As a result, used cars in Kyrgyzstan, being virtually the only option, are extremely well taken care of (reports from outdoor car markets even say ‘mint condition’ for 90s cars!) and retain their value for way longer than in other parts of the world. A very unique situation to be in for Kyrgyzstan. Who would have thought? The only official used car sales data I could find was housed on local website which seems to be the #1 used car website in the country.

Bazaar in Karasuu KyrgyzstanBazaar in Karasuu, Kyrgyzstan.

It showed Toyota in the lead with 17% of the used car market in May 2013, followed by Honda at 14%, Mercedes at 11%, Lexus at 8%, Subaru at 7%. Nissan at 6%, BMW and Volkswagen at 3.7%, Audi at 3.4% and Mitsubishi at 3.2%. Although this ranking would vary greatly from month to month, reported that the Toyota-Honda-Mercedes podium, nicknamed the “magnificent troika”, have held these positions consistently for months, perhaps years.

Audi 100 border Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan1980s Audi 100 at the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border.

Model-wise, again this is used car data, the Toyota Camry leads the way in May 2013 with 3.9% share, ahead of the Lexus RX300 and Subaru Legacy both at 3.4% share and the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester at 2.9% each. June data indicates the Honda Odyssey is also strong in the country.

Lexus LX570 Kyrgyzstan 2013Government officials can splurge on a Lexus LX…

So in this context, who if anyone buys new cars? This luxury seems to be reserved to members of the government, even though most officially earn only $1,000 a month which is already way above the average salary for Kyrgyzstan. Let’s just start by mentioning that Kyrgyzstan was ranked 164 out of 183 in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index. This has reached such proportions that local website uses crowd-sourced photos to identify each luxury vehicle and their government owner, estimating how long it would take for an average person to pay for that specific car.

Kyrgyzstani family…while the average Kyrgyzstani family can only afford a 1970 Lada. Picture by Eric Lafforgue.

This is where we learn for example that Deputy Nariman Tyuleev owns a Mercedes G-Class valued at US$91,000 which should in normal circumstances (read corruption-less) take him 8 years to pay-off without eating and by living on the street, and the average working Bishkek resident about 40 years, or that Deputy Azamat Arapbayev drives a 2008 Lexus LX570 valued at US$87,000 when imported into the country, which would take him 6 years to reimburse or the average working Bishkek resident about 28 years (with no other expenses).

More photos and Bishkek street video below.

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Kyrgyzstan: Toyota Camry should lead sales

* Click on title for street scenes and video! *

The Kyrgyz market is very similar to neighbour Kazahkstan, and should place the Toyota Camry on top on the sales ranking, ahead of the Toyota Prado and Land Cruiser. Old Ladas are still dominant in rural areas but should not appear in new car sales.

A few UzDaewoo Nexia (as police cars) can also be seen, as well as some new gen Toyota Corolla.

Street Scenes and Video below.

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USSR 1989-1991: VAZ (Lada) and Izh most popular brands

Lada 2105

* See the Top 8 all-brands ranking by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Alex *

The last years of existence of the Soviet Union see new car sales stagnate in the region: down 6% to 710,525 registrations in 1989 and up 0.1% in 1990 to 711,454. Sales to state organisations, intelligence services and the army are more on a rollercoaster: down 15% to 141,700 in 1989 and back up a massive 59% in 1990 to 225,446. A different source has total USSR sales in 1989 at 857.086, 1990 at 954.256 and 1991 at 974.945.

Izh 2125 Kombi

As expected VAZ (Lada) is the most popular brand in the country with 381,594 sales and 53.7% share in 1989, then 373,579 and 52.5% in 1990. It is followed by Izh at 133,750 then 127,503 and ZAZ at 92,768 then 86,732. The Moskvich 2141 Aleko is counted as a model given it now forms the entirety of the Moskvich range and sales are up 318% to 62,675 and 8.8% in 1989 for its first full year in market, then down 18% to 51,429 in 1990.

Note that in 1989, Soviet citizens were allowed to purchase the UAZ 3151 Patriot again, it was previously only delivered to the army and police. Car imports kick started in the USSR on March 16, 1988 but no data is available until 1990 when a significant 37,400 units were sold, this figure going up 51% in 1991 to 56,300…

Previous post: USSR 1988: Lada 2106 leads, Samara on podium

Full Year 1989 and 1990 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

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USSR 1988: Lada 2106 leads, Samara on podium

Lada Samara

* See the Top 15 all-models ranking by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Alex *

In 1988, the private new car market is down 8% year-on-year to 754,600 registrations, with the sales to state organisations, intelligence services and the army down 14% to 165,950 units. The VAZ 2106 keeps the pole position with sales up 1% to 216,890 and 28.7% share, while its archenemy the Moskvich 2140, at the end of its life, loses 28% on 1987 but stays #2 at 150,804 units. The Lada Samara climbs onto the podium at #3 with 95,028 sales (+7%).

Lada Niva 4×4

The IZH 2125 Kombi incredibly gains 3% to 47,500 units at #5 and the Lada Niva 4×4 is up a fantastic 32% at #6 with 40,243 sales, followed by the Lada 2107 and 2105.

GAZ 21-40 “Volga”

Moskvich 2141 “Aleko”

ZAZ 1102 “Tavria”

The GAZ 21-40 “Volga” is up one spot to #9 at 21,164 units. There are two new entrants in the 1987 models ranking: the Moskvich 2141 “Aleko” lands directly at #10 with 15,000 sales and the ZAZ 1102 “Tavria” ranks #13 with 2.100 units. Note imports started being allowed into the USSR on March 16, 1988.

Previous post: USSR 1987: Lada 2106 and Moskvich 2140 fight it off

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Full Year 1988 Top 15 all-models Ranking Table below.

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USSR 1987: Lada 2106 and Moskvich 2140 fight it off

VAZ 2106 (aka Lada 1600)

* See the Top 14 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Alex *

Thanks to Alex we are going back in time 25 years today because I can finally share with you for the first time on BSCB official models data for the USSR in the eighties! This is extremely rare data, detailing the private sales of all models in the country for 1987 and 1988 which you can check out in another post. I hope you enjoy it! In 1987, 819,960 new vehicles were sold to private buyers, to which you have to add 197,250 to state organizations, intelligence services and the army. However detailed models data for the latter is unknown.

Moskvich 2140

And the first surprise in the 1987 models ranking is to see that the VAZ 2106 (aka Lada 1600) is actually threatened by the Moskvich 2140 with 215,800 sales and 26.3% vs. 208,200 and 25.4%. Given this was the Moskvich’s last full year of sales it is reasonable to assume that it has led the USSR models ranking for at least a few years during the eighties and possibly seventies…

ZAZ 968M

Another forgotten model manages to hold itself within the USSR podium in 1987: the ZAZ 968M, also called Zaporozhets, with an impressive 116,500 units sold for a 14.2% market share. The Lada Samara is the fourth and last model to hold at least 10% of the Soviet market at #4 with 88,800 sales and 10.8%.

IZH 2125 Kombi

In 5th place, notice the IZH 2125 Kombi, and please raise your hand if you don’t live in Russia right now and knew about this model… I didn’t. Originally launched in 1973, the 2125 enjoyed a slight facelift in 1982 and would continue its career in Russia all the way through to 1997…


Further down, notice all the iterations of the Lada “Zhigouli” ranking from #7 (2107) to #12 (2104) and the memerising LUAZ 969M 4×4 in 11th place with 11,200 sales.

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Full Year 1987 Top 14 all-models Ranking Table below.

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USSR 1980-1986: Lada 2106 and Moskvich 2140 likely leaders

Lada 2106

USSR new vehicle sales reach 1.035.663 units in 1985, the last time above 1 million until 8 years later in 1993. In 1986 the market drops 3.9% to 994.805. Lada launches the 2105 in 1979, basically a restyled 2101. The traditional Deluxe version, named 2107, is added in 1982 and the Station Wagon, 2104, appears in 1984. More info on the Lada 2105 series here. However the 2106, launched in 1975, should still be the brand’s best-seller in the country over the period…

Moskvich 2140

…potentially overtaken in the overall ranking by the Moskvich 2140, facelifted in 1981, during some years. If you have access to official models data for the period please make sure you get in touch by commenting on here or filling up the ‘Contact’ form.

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USSR 1970-1979: Lada 2101-3 conquers the Soviet roads

Lada 2101

The brand VAZ (Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod), better known worldwide as Lada, was established in the late 1960’s in collaboration with Fiat and started producing the 2101, a localised version of the Fiat 124, in 1970.

Even though there are no official figures available, the Lada 2101 in all likeliness dominated car sales in the USSR throughout the seventies. In 1972 the 2102, a Station Wagon, and the 2103, a Deluxe version, are added, reinforcing the domination of the model on the Soviet roads.  More info on the Lada 2101 series here.

Please get in touch if you have any data relating to this period!

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Lada 2102

Lada 2103