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Review of Russian Car Market: 2018 Results and 2019 Forecasts



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Following the results of car sales in 2018, Russia took the fifth place in Europe, letting Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy take the lead, and retained the 12th place in the world car market rating.

Source:, 2018

Russian Car Market Dynamics in 2018

Total in 2018, the market of new light and light commercial vehicles amounted to 1,800,591 pcs, reports the Automobile Manufacturers Committee of the Association of European Businesses. This is 12.8% more than sold in 2017. It is worth noting that the result even surpassed expectations. So, in March of the last year the Automobile Manufacturers Committee predicted a 10% growth up to the level of 1.75 million pieces.

Both segments, mass and premium, also demonstrated their growth (+13.9% and +7.4% respectively). Sales of mass brand cars in 2018 reached 1,572,246 units, which equals to 91.2% of the total turnover.

Russian Car Marker Structure

For the last 10 years, the Russian car market has substantially lost in the numbers—in 2018, 40% less light cars were sold than in 2008. But, on the other hand, during this time its market has notably changed, too.

While 10 years ago Russians used to buy Japanese cars most often (at that time, it was every fourth car), now ‘Europeans’ lead with a share of 26.7% (in 2008, they only had 17.8% of the Russian market). Having said that, today ‘Japanese’ hold one fifth of the market, even giving place to Korean brands. By the way, it is ‘Koreans’ (on second thought, just like ‘Europeans’) that took the most impressive leap during this time—their share increased from 14.1% to 24.3%!

Source:, 2018

Top 10 Brands Sold in Russia

1. Lada — 360,204 sold cars (+16%),

2. Kia — 227,584 (+25%),

3. Hyundai — 178,269 (+13%),

4. Renault — 137,062 (0%),

5. Toyota — 108,492 (+15%),

6. Volkswagen — 106,056 (+19%),

7. Skoda — 81,459 (+31%),

8. Nissan — 80,025 (+6%),

9. GAZ (commercial vehicles) — 60,677 (+4%),

10. Ford – 53,234 (+6%).

Source:, 2018

Among the brands which sales in 2018 amounted to more than 10,000 pieces, the maximum growth dynamics was demonstrated by Mitsubishi (87%)—sales of this car brand equaled to 45,391 cars; next come Skoda (+31%; 81,459 pcs) and Kia (+25%; 227,584 pcs).

It turned out to be a less successful year for Datsun (-16% as compared with 2017 results; 20,559 pcs) and Lifan (-11%; 15,097 pcs).

At year-end 2018, Top 3 auto manufacturers, which are Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, KIA-Hyundai, and Volkswagen Group, occupy more than 70% of the Russian car market together.

The leader among models became LADA Vesta for the first time, having showed the highest market dynamics in Top 20 (+40.2%) and having removed the bestseller of 2017, KIA Rio, from the first place in the sales rating.

Source:, 2018

Top 10 Most Saleable New Foreign Cars in Russia

At year-end 2018, sales of foreign cars (including LCV) in Russia amounted to 1.34 million units in total (+13.1%). Most top ten models increased their sales in Russia, as compared to the previous year, and the largest growth was demonstrated by the KIA Sportage crossover (+32.7%). At that, only two models here show a drop in sales— Hyundai Solaris and Renault Duster (-4.4% and -5.5% respectively).

Source:, 2018

How Many Auto Dealers Work in the Russian Market?

Although the Russian car market has been demonstrating a sustainable growth for more than 1.5 years already, dealer networks keep on diminishing. According to AUTOSTAT analytic agency, as of mid-October 2018, there were 3,427 official dealership centers for sales and maintenance of light vehicles in total. This was 63 less than in the beginning of the year (in mid-January, there were 3,490). A reduction in the number of dealers in our country occurred due to the fact that 359 effective dealer contracts were terminated, while only 296 new ones were concluded.

Source:, October, 2018

The largest dealer network in the country is still owned by AvtoVAZ—as of mid-October, there were 298 dealers for LADA cars sales and maintenance. Next ones (with a solid gap) are Korean manufacturers KIA and Hyundai (185 and 183 dealers respectively). Top 5 leaders by this indicator also includes the French Renault (148 dealers) and the Japanese Nissan (133). 8 more brands officially presented in Russia have more than 100 dealership centers.

What Is in Store for Us in 2019?

Joerg Schreiber, Chairperson of the Automobile Manufacturers Committee of the Association of European Businesses, believes that VAT growth and possibly tougher USA sanctions create material risks and uncertainties in the market, especially in the first quarter. He awaits growth, starting from the second quarter; his tentative forecast for 2019 is 1.87 million units or +3.6% to the last year.

Currency rates, in his opinion, will be of particular importance (dollar and euro). Prices for cars will carry on growing in the current year, in accordance with the natural inflation rate and VAT increase (not everyone had time to adjust the prices yet), but if currency rates are more or less stable, price growth dynamics will turn to be smooth. However, now nobody will dare predict this trend.

As for sales in segments, today the most fast growing one is crossovers and off-road vehicles. The SUV share will hit 50% within the nearest two or three years (in 2018, it was 41.5%). Such cars are the fashion now, they are often renovated, many new models appear; moreover, a number of manufacturers concentrate their efforts on their engineering to the disadvantage of others, for instance, sedans.


RMAA Group members are experts in promotion of foreign car brands in the Russian market. Based on data from studies, analytics, and our experience, as well as relying on your marketing purposes, we will help you elaborate and implement a strategy to promote your car brand in the Russian market.

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About the Author

Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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