Over the next few weeks I will be taking you on a trip through Trans-Siberian railway, stopping along the way in various Russia, Mongolian and Chinese cities to observe the vastly different car landscapes each time. The first stop was St Petersburg in Russia, we are now off to Moscow!
Russia, Mongolia and China not your thing? That’s fine, you can check out 174 other car markets on my blog.
Back to the Trans-Siberian and Moscow. Jump in!
After St Petersburg 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.
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!
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, making an excruciating sound.
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.
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 looks like more Moscovites have bought one in the last 3 months the model has been on sale than they have Lada Grantas which is supposed to lead the Russian national sales charts! That couldn’t be further from the truth in Moscow…
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 time I was in Russia’s capital to grab my attention.
Estimated Top 10 best-selling models in September 2013 – Moscow:
That was Moscow! I hope it was entertaining enough. Next stop: Kazan in Tatarstan (that’s still in Russia though!)…
Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars Blog, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.