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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Moscow, Russia Photo Report

1 Range RoverThe new generation Range Rover is already everywhere in Moscow!

* See the Full Photo Report and my estimated Top 10 models by clicking on the title! *

This is part 2 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Photo Report here. We are now travelling 700 km South-East to Moscow, the capital of Russia and home to 11.5 million inhabitants. The first observation when arriving in Moscow is the age of the car park: much older than in St Petersburg at 7-8 years old on average. So whereas the St Petersburg car landscape was like removing all Ladas from the 2013 sales charts, for Moscow think of the most popular foreign models in the country in 2005-2006 (Ford Focus, Chevrolet Optra, Mitsubishi Lancer) and you won’t be far from the mark.

2 Chevrolet NivaChevrolet Niva

There are more Ladas than in St Petersburg with the Samara, Priora and 110 most frequent, but still way below the national sales levels. I saw my first Lada 4×4 pick-up here though! In Moscow I had the privilege to meet with Vladimir Soloviev from the #1 car magazine in Russia, Za Rulem. Vladimir told me that half the cars sold in the entire country are sold in Moscow, which is a huge percentage and means the rest of Russia is filled with Ladas!

3 Lada ZhiguliLada Zhiguli

Another way to describe the Moscow car landscape is extreme: more luxury cars and more bruised and battered cars but not much in between. Loud is also a good word: like in St Petersburg, there doesn’t seem to be any speed limits in town, and drivers gauge each other by the sound their engine does, sometimes unwittingly: I saw a 1992 VW Golf fly past at a speed I had not thought it capable and with a excruciating sound I had never heard come from a moving vehicle…

4 Renault LoganThe Moscow police are big fans of the Renault Logan.

5 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris

Last time I published an article about Moscow car sales in November 2011 the Ford Focus and Renault Logan were very strong. This is pretty much still valid, with the addition of the Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio which have now clearly made their mark on Moscow traffic. I will venture an estimate on the Moscow sales charts and say the Hyundai Solaris should lead the pack followed by the Ford Focus, Kia Rio and Renault Logan, very successful with the local police, with the Kia Cee’d, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Sportage and new generation Toyota RAV4 also very popular.

6 Toyota HighlanderToyota Highlander

Moscovites push the SUV trend we saw in St Petersburg even further which I didn’t think was possible… Volvo does particularly well in this segment, with two XC60 sitting next to each other at a traffic light a rather common sight. Lots of SsangYong Kyron as well, which is a refreshing if not entertaining trend, and lots and lots of new generation Range Rover like in St Petersburg: it would seem more Moscovites have bought one in the last 3 months the model has been on sale than they have Lada Grantas which has been in market for a solid 18 months and is supposed to lead the Russian national sales charts which couldn’t be further from the truth in Moscow!

7 Kia ForteKia Forte

Other models I was surprised to see often here are the new generation Kia Forte, Ford Mondeo, Chevrolet Spark and Honda Pilot, but the reward for the most over-represented model in Moscow, after the Nissan Juke in St Petersburg, goes to the Nissan Murano. Granted, it’s not a flood of them, but the current generation of the model appeared regularly enough in the 36 hours I was in Russia’s capital to grab my attention.

That was Moscow! I hope it was entertaining enough. Next stop: Kazan in Tatarstan (that’s still in Russia though!)…

Full Photo Report and estimated Top 10 best-sellers below.

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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013 – St Petersburg, Russia Photo Report

2 Lada ZhiguliLada Zhiguli

* See the Full Photo Report and my estimated Top 10 models by clicking on the title! *

Over the last couple of weeks I have been backpacking my way along the Trans-Siberian railway, hopping on and off the train and discovering very different car landscapes along the way. Each time I took the train I moved between 800 and 1000 km so it’s really like finding oneself in a different country altogether, even though I stayed in Russia for the first two weeks of my trip. Given how obsessed I am with which cars are successful where, I don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn that the ratio car/tourist pictures I have taken has been 10 to 1 so far…

1 Opel MokkaOpel Mokka

So from today onwards I will share with you one Photo Report for each city I have gone through, by the time this series is over we should have about a dozen Photo Reports in total, I can’t tell you the exact number for now simply because I don’t know how many cities I will stop in! I have also been trying to meet people from the automotive industry along the way to give these Photo Reports a bit more depth.

3 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris

First stop is St Petersburg, at the very West of Russia. Straight from the airport car park, the main striking element when looking at the car landscape here is how young it is: cars over 5 years-old are by far in minority! A very fine achievement in a city of 5 million inhabitants.

It looks like St Petersburgers have taken full advantage of the scrappage schemes in place in the country over the past couple of years. The second observation about the St Petersburg car traffic is that there doesn’t seem to be any speed limit in the city, or one that has long been forgotten! It’s simple: pedestrians have had to dig tunnels for themselves to go under the streets as it is way too dangerous to attempt a crossing…

4 Kia RioKia Rio

In terms of the St Petersburg car landscape composition, one thing becomes very clear very quickly: the near absence of Ladas! Over the 36 hours I spent in the city, I saw way less Lada Granta (8) than new generation Range Rover (20) or Porsche Cayenne (40)! The legendary Zhiguli seems to be an endangered species here, you can still pick a few Samaras but nearly no 110, Priora or 4×4. Volgas are still relatively frequent in St Petersburg streets, mainly as taxis but I also spotted 2 very well preserved 1962 models.

5 VW PoloVW Polo

In fact, an easy way to describe the cars you see in the streets of St Petersburg is to say it’s like you took the 2013 Russian sales charts and removed all Ladas! The Hyundai Solaris, VW Polo (almost exclusively as a sedan), Ford Focus and Kia Rio should dominate the St Petersburg ranking in this order.

6 Ford FocusFord Focus

The good thing about being ‘in the place’ is that I can now share with you certain recent developments about the Russian new car market and explore it with a lot more depth than the monthly Top 25 models I publish. For example, it became quite clear after a few hours spent in the country that the reason for the Chevrolet Cruze’s current second wind (it is up to a record 4th place overall in August) is the success of the hatchback version, an interesting fact as Russians are still mostly fond of sedans.

9 Renault Logan Chevrolet CobaltRenault Logan and Chevrolet Cobalt

A little like minis and superminis in Italy, if you’re an SUV in St Petersburg and offer a higher driving position, chances are you’ll be met with success. The Opel Mokka for once is a prime example of this trend: it’s only been on sale for a few months but is already swarming the streets of St Petersburg. Pretty much every other SUV can be spotted repeatedly: Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi ASX, new generation Toyota RAV4, BMW X1, X5, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Land Cruiser… You name it, you’ll find it here. Heck even the Renault Koleos and Peugeot 4007 are more frequent than in Paris!

7 Nissan Juke Nissan Juke

But the reward for most over-represented model in St Petersburg compared to the national sales charts undoubtedly goes to the Nissan Juke, literally everywhere! It is not uncommon to see 2 or 3 of them parked next to each other, and I would bet on a Top 10 or even Top 5 ranking for the Juke in this city.

8 Infiniti FX Infiniti FX

Luxury vehicles are almost as common as mid-range ones in the centre of St Petersburg. Apart from the staggering amount of new generation Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne I saw, the main learning here (and I will end up finding this in most cities) is the incredible strength of Infiniti, almost reaching the status of mainstream brand. Surfing on the SUV craze, the FX is the brand’s most popular model but the entire range is represented with also a strong heritage from the birth of the brand onwards. You can also see many Mercedes M, GL, E, C and new generation A Class, BMW 1 and 7 Series and VW CC and I spotted two Mercedes CLA.

10 Toyota RAV4Toyota RAV4, Lifan Solano and Chery Amulet

A few other surprises: the very high occurrence of current gen Citroen C4 vs. nearly no first generation, including in its sedan variant which I had never seen before, the Kia Cee’d extremely popular especially the station wagon variant and the good start of the Chevrolet Orlando. Other frequent models are the Ford Mondeo, Toyota Camry, Skoda Octavia and Fabia (but no sedan) and VW Jetta. I also saw a reasonable amount of Citroen DS4.

11 Lada ZhiguliLada Zhiguli

This trip is also an opportunity to discover ‘in the flesh’ models confined to a certain region of the world. For example the Chevrolet Niva is very common here, I saw my first Peugeot 408, first Peugeot 301 and first Chevrolet Cobalt in St Petersburg. Oh and the Lada 4×4 4 doors and a Samara van which never left Russia… I saw my first ones here!

12 Volga TaxiGAZ Volga

There are a few Chinese models but compared to the next cities I visited they are relatively rare in St Petersburg. Apart from the Geely Emgrand EC7 and Lifan Solano as taxis, I spotted a few Great Wall Hover, Geely MK2 hatchback, one BYD F3 and one Lifan Smily (aka 320).

That was St Petersburg! I hope you enjoyed this first stop. We’re going next to Moscow…

Full Photo Report featuring 30 photos and estimated Top 10 below.

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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Portal to all Photo Reports here

Trans-Siberian Route Part 10Follow the Russian route in my Trans-Siberian trip on the map (click to enlarge)…

(Mongolian map below)

This post lists all Trans-Siberian Railway Photo Reports as they get published. Be sure to check it often so you don’t miss any!

1. Russia

Part 1: St Petersburg, Russia (published 28 September 2013)

Part 2: Moscow, Russia (published 29 September 2013)

Part 3: Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia (published 29 September 2013)

Part 4: Yekaterinburg, Ural, Russia (published 30 September 2013)

Part 5: Omsk, Siberia, Russia (published 1 October 2013)

Part 6: Tomsk, Siberia, Russia (published 2 October 2013)

Part 7: Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia (published 3 October 2013)

Part 8: Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia (published 4 October 2013)

Part 9: Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia (published 6 October 2013)

Part 10: Ulan Ude, Buryatia, Russia (published 7 October 2013)

Part 20: The Russian car park (published 31 October 2013)

Mongolia Route Part 18 Follow the Mongolian route in my Trans-Siberian trip on the map (click to enlarge)…

2. Mongolia

Part 11: Mongolia First Impressions (published 9 October 2013)

Part 12: Terelj National Park, Mongolia (published 10 October 2013)

Part 13: Which cars survived the Gobi (1/3) (published 18 October 2013)

Part 14: Which cars survived the Gobi (2/3) (published 20 October 2013)

Part 15: Which cars survived the Gobi (3/3) (published 22 October 2013)

Part 16: The Hummers of Ulaanbaatar (published 22 October 2013)

Part 17: Peugeot launches in Mongolia (published 24 October 2013)

Part 18: The Japanese imports of Ulaanbaatar (published 29 October 2013)

Part 19: The best-selling cars in Mongolia (published 30 October 2013)

Part 23: Mercedes G-Class Mongolian music video (published 16 November 2013)

3. China

Part 21: Beijing, China Photo Report (published 4 November 2013)

Part 22: A visit to the Chaoyang, Beijing car market (published 4 November 2013)

Part 24: A selection of Chinese car brochures (published 16 November 2013)

Hope you enjoy!