Domestic car market – strongest decline in 20 years.
Renault Logan last year became the best selling foreign vehicle on the Russian market for the first time, overtaking last years’ leader Ford Focus, according to HotNews. Both models are produced in Russia, country where the best selling auto models in general remain those made by Lada. Logan won the battle with Focus as its sales only dropped 27 per cent compared to Ford’s 44 per cent in 2009, according to the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation. Almost 54,000 Renault Logan and over 52,000 Ford Focus units were sold in Russia last year. Number three and four are Chevrolet Lacetti and Daewoo Nexia with less than 30,000 units sold of each of them. Since 2005, Logan has been produced at the Avtoframos plant near Moscow and is sold under the Renault brand, one reason being that the French name was better known than Dacia on the local market and the second that the Russian officials did not want a car with a Romanian name sold on the local market. Nonetheless, the best selling new cars in Russia overall are still Lada: Priora – about 100,000 models, Samara – over 90,000 models, the 2105/217 series with over 67,000 and Kalina – over 60,000 units.
On the other hand, car sales in Romania registered in 2009 the sharpest fall in the past two decades, 55 per cent, which brought it at the level in 2003, when dealer networks were in inception stage in this country, Antena 3 reports. In 2003-2004, importers announced losses following nationwide network expansion on an auto market dominated by cash purchases, while leases and car loans were in early stages. The comparison between 2003-2004 and 2009 only stands in terms of the number of new cars sold, although estimates differ. While then, growth hopes were all-prevalent, now, even stagnation is desired. If in 2008 importers sold 54,000 car units, in 2009, the figure dived to 22,700 units.
Auto market sees 2009 as a ‘disastrous’ year. Slumps of 40 per cent, 50 per cent and even 70 per cent in car sales called for new measures aimed at downsizing operations. Also, the service share rose from below 20 per cent before 2008, to over 40 per cent in 2009. Last year also saw a first in auto market predictions, albeit a negative one.