Russian car sales almost back to pre-war levels

October registrations show a Russian car market trying to capture its old form after the collapse of last year. In October, sales soared compared to the month before, almost reaching levels from before the start of the Ukrainian invasion. Lada, the most prominent brand, is losing ground to the Chinese newcomers.

According to the Russian registration office Autostat, sales of new passenger cars rose by 2,6-fold in October compared to the previous month. With 112 238 cars registered, the results are near the pre-war situation, when 126 204 units were sold in October 2021.

Best-sellers Granta and Niva

Parent company to Lada Avtovaz, owned by Renault before the invasion, claims the top spot in the ranking. But where in September every second car sold was Russian, the share has dropped to 30% in October. Overall, the year 2023 represents a growth of 94,2% for the brand – the models Granta and the Niva.

Particularly on the rise are the Chinese brands, led by Haval, which tripled its sales to 12 800 cars last month and closely followed by Chery, demonstrating a similar growth pattern.

Except for Lada, only Chinese brands comprise the top five in Russia. Haval and Chery are followed by compatriot brands Geely and Changan, with 4×4 brands Sollers and UAZ, other Russian brands completing the top ten. As for foreign brands, Kia’s performance keeps plummeting (-72,5%), as the brand has moved its offices to Kazakhstan. The Korean brand was once the number two in the ranking and was still in the top ten after the war broke out.

Geely gets cautious

A year ago, it was still on the table that the Russian market could shut down completely, but these latest figures show that Chinese brands are successfully filling the gaps that Western-minded car brands left behind.

For many of these brands, the country is their third-largest market. Some of these brands, like Great Wall Motors, also have production plants in Russia. The Chinese pre-war share of 10% has now grown to almost 40%.

It was uttered that the Chinese brands would face a backlash in Europe and the US because of their business loyalty to Russia, but this has not been the case. However, Geely, which owns international brands like Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus, is continuously revising its strategy in Russia and temporarily shut down its plant in Belarus, which exports to Russia.


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