Thirst for revenge

The Russian car market, which after a protracted crisis last year made a U-turn in the direction of growth, today is undergoing yet another change. Recall that due to the devaluation of the ruble in recent years, Russian-made cars have significantly strengthened their positions, taking up a record 81% of total sales in 2017.


The share of imported foreign cars began to decline even from the previous crisis of 2008 - then, according to the Avtostat agency, they accounted for more than half of the market (56%). Five years ago, in 2013, only a third of all cars sold were imported, and last year, the share of imports of new cars decreased to a minimum of 19% . This was largely facilitated by the policy of the Russian authorities on import substitution in the car market. So, in 2012, against the imported foreign cars, in particular, a recycling fee was introduced, which is compensated to local car manufacturers through industrial subsidies from the state. Numerous state support programs that have been in force in recent years have also been aimed at stimulating sales of Russian-made cars. And even a gradual decrease in duties on new cars in the framework of Russia's obligations to the WTO (from 30% in 2012 to 20% in 2017) could not improve the situation of “real” foreign cars in our country.

And after 10 years of a continuous decline in the share of imported cars this year, it again began to grow, amounting to 20% in the first quarter. In part, this became possible due to reduced state support for the car market this year, because, as you know, they apply exclusively to Russian-made cars. The recent completion of the “First …” and “Family Car” concessional car loan programs, in theory, should contribute to a further redistribution of demand in favor of imports. However, on the other hand, the surge in sales of imported foreign cars at the beginning of the year could be caused by the upcoming indexation of waste collection and an increase in excise taxes on cars with a capacity of more than 200 hp, because of which prices for imported models began to rise just starting in April. This means that there is no need to talk about the upcoming revenge of the “foreigners, ” especially given the instability of the Russian currency this year.

“If, due to higher taxes or a drop in the purchasing power of the ruble, the market will shrink, then the supply of cars to it will be cut back. Moreover, a deficit is possible only with new or limited models. The experience of the past decades shows that any stocks imported before taxes, excise taxes, etc., diverge quite quickly, and the buyer gets used to the new prices relatively quickly, ”commented Oleg Shamba, director of Mercedes-Benz Avilon dealership .

Meanwhile, car manufacturers in the first quarter of 2018 increased deliveries to Russia more than the market grew. So, legal entities imported 53.8 thousand cars into our country, which is 34% more than a year earlier (data from Avtostat). Car sales over the same period increased by 21% and amounted to 545.4 thousand units. The three leaders in terms of import volume remain unchanged: tops the Toyota rating with 11.1 thousand cars (new and used), followed by premium brands Mercedes-Benz (6.1 thousand units) and Lexus (4.6 thousand . PC.). At the same time, it is worth noting automakers who have a local assembly in Russia, but have recently begun to actively increase imports. Among them are Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Skoda, Hyundai and Nissan, which, in the wake of the general growth in demand, began to bring new ones to us or return previously abandoned models.

So, Nissan’s increase in supplies is due to the restart of the Juke crossover on the Russian market, which has been imported into our country along with the Nissan GT-R since mid-2017. The Japanese company confirms that the recent indexation of waste collection has a negative impact, but exclusively on the sale of imported cars. For example, in April, the price of Nissan Juke rose by 75 thousand rubles. Nevertheless, Nissan intends to keep the volume at the planned level, already in the near future offering the Russians an updated Juke crossover, in which, in addition to the fresh design, new trim levels and options will appear.

According to Alexey Pochechuev, Head of Sales at Skoda Auto Russia, told Za Rulem.RF, in the first quarter, Czechs increased imports to Russia due to increased demand for the Superb model, as well as the presence of the Kodiaq SUV on the market this year, which a year ago not offered to customers. At the same time, the share of imported cars in the total Russian sales of the Skoda brand is insignificant, and due to the localization of Kodiaq (since February it has been produced at GAZ facilities in Nizhny Novgorod), the share of imports will decrease.


At MMS Rus, the increase in supplies is explained by the growing demand for Mitsubishi cars, as well as the low base effect. The fact is that the bulk of imports during the reporting period fell on the ASX crossover, which returned to the Russian market in August 2017, and the L200 pickup, whose deliveries in connection with the change of the model year began last year only from April. Contributed to the new compact crossover Eclipse Cross, which went on sale in April 2018. At the same time, from the end of last year, the company localized in Russia the production of Pajero Sport SUVs with a diesel engine, while the gasoline modification of the model is still imported.

According to Vladimir Miroshnikov, Director of Development, Rolf, car manufacturers believed in the growth potential of the Russian market and began to expand the range of cars presented in our country. This is primarily due to the supply of models designed for a limited circle of customers, as well as an increase in configurations for models for which demand was stable - now you can expand the reach of potential buyers. At the same time, leading automakers are committed to localizing production, launching a Russian assembly of key volume-forming models.

Sticks in wheels

Separately, it is worth mentioning the Ravon brand, which, according to the results of the first quarter of 2018, entered the top ten largest auto importers, increasing supplies to Russia by 82%, to 2.1 thousand cars. However, in March, imports of Uzbek cars almost halved, and in April it was completely suspended, which immediately caused a shortage of Russian dealers.

As explained by “Driving. Russia” in the press service of “Ravon Motors Rus”, the supply of cars to Russia was temporarily suspended due to a revision of prices for the Russian market due to changes in the national currencies of Russia and Uzbekistan, increase in utilization tax rates, as well as conducting large-scale modernization of production lines at GM Uzbekistan to launch new models and the accompanying increase in capital expenditures. At the same time, at the end of March, the Uzbek automaker had already raised prices for its cars in Russia - the growth was from 10 thousand to 30 thousand rubles, depending on the model.

Now Ravon dealerships continue to accept pre-orders for cars, warning customers about delayed delivery times (they are planned to be fully renewed at the end of May) and possible changes in the final price. Also, Ravon Motors Rus do not abandon their plans to present a new crossover and a restyled version of the R4 sedan on the Russian market, which will premiere at the August Moscow Motor Show.


Despite the fact that the localized models provide the basis for the sales of most brands, import growth this year was made possible thanks to manufacturers of mass-produced foreign cars. But premium representatives are cutting supplies to Russia, due to the later recovery of this segment after the crisis.

So, the largest drop in imports in January-March 2018 was recorded by Jaguar (-19%), Mercedes - Benz (-26%), Lexus (-26%), Audi (-37%) and Infiniti (-44%), read the data "Autostat". The temporary decrease in supplies at the Russian office of Infiniti is explained by the gradual withdrawal from the market of the previous generation of QX50 and QX80 crossovers, which will soon be offset by an increase in imports of new QX50 / QX80 models. In addition, in light of the increase in excise taxes on cars with a capacity of 200 hp or more and indexing waste collection, the Japanese company made efforts to maximize vehicle stocks at the end of last year to keep prices unchanged in the first quarter of 2018. In the future, Infiniti does not plan to reduce quotas for the Russian market, but, on the contrary, intends to increase sales of its key models this year - QX50 and QX80.

“The increase in excise taxes has not yet been reflected in the market, as dealers and importers have a sufficient number of cars imported into the country earlier. But then premium cars are likely to rise in price, which obviously will not play in their favor. Unambiguously, manufacturers will look at the dynamics of the market and adjust supplies based on demand, as a result of which this may lead to a shortage, ”says Vladimir Miroshnikov.

"Foreigners" go to us


In general, market participants expect further recovery in demand for cars, which will grow, including in the segment of imported cars . This, in particular, should be facilitated by a further reduction in duties on new foreign cars (the target is 15% by 2019), as well as the completion of the preferential industrial assembly regime for a number of car manufacturers on July 1, 2018. So, according to the forecast of the consulting company PwC, according to the results of the current year, the sale of imported cars will increase by 10%, to 280 thousand units, which is slightly less than the expected growth of the market as a whole (+ 11%). However, last year the import segment did show a 7% drop, despite the general market sales increase of 13%. This allows us to hope that automakers will continue to expand their model lines in Russia due to new products and niche cars. However, further development of the import segment will largely depend on exchange rates, which to a greater extent affect the cost and competitiveness of imported vehicles.