By on March 11, 2014

1 Toyota Prius IIToyota Prius next to a traditional Mongol ger in Terelj National Park

After giving you my first impressions on the unique Mongolian car landscape, I now take you to Terelj National Park, 80 km East of the capital Ulaanbaatar and already complete countryside. What I first observed in Ulaanbaatar is still valid here, namely a huge part of the car landscape is composed of the first two generations Toyota Prius. I have also seen proportionally more Toyota Verossas in this part of the country. More after the jump…

If you can’t wait for the next report, you can follow my trip in real time here, or check out 174 other car markets on my blog.

2 Toyota VerossaToyota Verossa near Nalaikh, Mongolia – September 2013

As far as new models are concerned, the large SUV trend I described in Ulaanbaatar is even more pronounced here, even though the road from Ulaanbaatar to Telej is sealed all the way and in perfect condition. Given the Terelj Hotel, the most luxurious hotel in the country, it’s a typical weekend destination for cashed-up inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar. I spotted many Toyota Land Cruiser on my way to Terelj and a few Lexus LX, Infiniti QX and Nissan Patrol.

3 Toyota Prius IToyota Prius on the road to Terelj

This was for me the opportunity to discover the ‘real’ Mongolia, sleep in a traditional ger and check out the eagles, camels, yaks and horses that are emblematic of the country.I have had a few questions from you asking whether Mongolia was already too ‘commercialised’. While it is obvious that the country is probably a lot more developed and touristy than a decade ago, it is not a walk in the park and you have to ‘earn’ your Mongolian experience.

4 Matt MongoliaGood old me with my mate Attila the golden eagle

What is heart-warming is seeing a large part of the Mongolian people now actually living the life they had been dreaming about for decades and enjoying every minute of it. While they have embraced consumerism whole-heartedly, they are doing so very pragmatically, with caution and most importantly without losing themselves, in a typically Buddhist way. The Mongolian modern identity is unique and has a multitude of facets including modern ‘Mongol pop’ music which mixes traditional instruments with contemporary sounds, and very traditional costumes it is not rare to see worn in the street or around ger camps.

8 Foton AumanFoton Auman

Most of the heavy trucks doing road work are Chinese: the Foton Auman is the most popular with construction companies (some with an interesting and very prominent ‘Produced by Foton Daimler’ announcement on their side), as are the Sinotruck and Dongfeng brands. I also saw a Wuzheng truck which is a brand I didn’t know of before…

8 Toyota Prius IToyota Prius just outside of Ulaanbaatar

That’s all for Terelj, and for once I can’t tell you what the next stop will be because I am not sure whether there actually are cars there! So it’ll be a surprise…

5 Lexus LXLexus LX in Terelj

6 UAZ BukhankaUAZ Bukhanka

7 Toyota VerossaToyota Verossa

9 Wuzheng TruckWuzheng Truck in Terelj National Park 

10 Dongfeng TruckDongfeng truck

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18 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Trans Siberian Series Part 12: Terelj National Park, Mongolia...”


  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    The Prius does well on gravel roads and -40 below in Alaska so why not in Mongolia as well?

    Don´t know about Chinese cars but if they are anything like Eastern-European and Soviet vehicles of yore the reliability would be another reason to get a Prius. In five years and 50k miles we have done two scheduled services changed the small battery(200$) and a light bulb!

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I find it very surprising to see these hybrids here. Could they be very cheap imports brought in as used cars from Japan? I’ve never been to the far steppes of Asia but at least in Eastern Europe people will not be caught dead in a hybrid. I’ve seen a lot more Bentley and Ferrari vehicles in Eastern Europe than hybrids. Hybrids are a hard pill to swallow when they cost at least 35-40k Euros and a small diesel Hyundai or Kia that gets 60 mpg is about 11-12K. You really have to love the environment to buy one.

  • avatar

    My question is: how difficult is it to get service there if a car breaks down?

    I can’t imagine hybrid service or EV maintenance is cheap or pactical there.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      And that’s why I think there’s some angle with those hybrids in Mongolia Bigtruck. They probably are brought from Japan with 70% of their battery life gone and they are sold at very low prices.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        That really isn’t how things happen with the Toyota hybrids. The gasoline motor still does a vast majority of the work on a Prius. The purpose of the electric motors is to supply most of the low speed torque and scavenge energy during braking/gliding. This isn’t like a Tesla, Leaf, or even a Volt where a good portion of the energy to drive the vehicle comes directly from the battery that is charged via plug-in. Toyota batteries, in particular, are overbuilt for this relatively light load and are historically very reliable. Consumer Reports did a test on a 2002 Toyota Prius 10 years and 200k miles after they did their testing on a 2002 Prius when it was new. Fuel economy, acceleration, and braking numbers were all spot on.

        As far as maintenance, my Prius doesn’t have an alternator or a starter to fail. No accessory belt. The engine is, for all practical purposes, the same basic design as a Corolla. The torque split device (aka transmission) is extremely simple. It is a simple planetary gearset instead of multiple planetary gearsets, 5/6/7 brake/clutch sets, etc. I’d say it is no more difficult to fix or maintain than any other automatic transmission car on the road.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Interesting how once a hybrid or electric car is mentioned someome jumps in to claim how battery packs are horribly expensive and don’t last.
          Those who complain about the supposed drawbacks of electric and hybrid cars have absolutely no experience owning them.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      People out there are much more self sufficient. If you own a car, you know how to fix it yourself. For the most part, Toyota’s system has proven to be pretty bullet proof, the one weak spot is the battery cooling water pump, which isn’t too hard to DIY. There’s probably shops in the capital that stock used batteries and other parts, and I’m sure there’s a new Toyota dealer there as well.

      It was the same story in the Soviet Union, you were your own mechanic. In anticipation of this, driver’s ed over there was incredibly thorough, covering the innards of how the car worked (carburetors, engines, transmissions, etc). Car owners manuals were likewise very technical and assumed the driver would be doing all of the work himself.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    The truck in the background of a second picture from the top is old Soviet ZiL-130.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I didn’t know about the Toyota Verossa. Rear wheel drive and a 200 hp naturally aspirated, small displacement inline-6 with Toyota engineering is an interesting combination. Too bad it isn’t much better looking than a BMW.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Matt Gasnier. Mongolia is becoming the new “Bali” for Australians like yourself.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    You’d never heard of Wuzheng ’cause Wuzheng ain’t nothin’ to truck wit’.


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