13 Jan 2011 14:13

New car, LCV sales in Russia soar 30% in 2010 - AEB

MOSCOW. Jan 13 (Interfax) - Sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia increased 30% to over 1.9 million vehicles last year, David Thomas, chairman of the Association of European Business (AEB) Automobile Manufacturers Committee, told reporters on Thursday.

The AEB said at the start of last year that it thought sales would reach 1.5 million, but it revised its forecast several times as the year progressed, and ended up predicting 1.9 million.

Thomas said the AEB expected sales to rise to 2.2 million vehicles in 2011.

The Russian government's 'scrappage' program, in which old used cars are traded in for new-car discounts, generated about a third more sales for Russian automakers this past year. The program could have a similar impact on sales this year, Thomas said.

His committee is of the view that aspects of the scrappage program are not fully understood. The AEB would also like to see a method worked out for calculating the value of used cars so as to better new-car sales.

The AEB is aware of Russia's enormous potential, Thomas said.

Experts at the analytical agency Avtostat predict sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia will increase 31.5% to 2.5 million vehicles this year.

"According to Avtostat's projections, 2.5 million new cars and LCVs will be sold in 2011, which is a 31.5% increase from 2010. A total of 2.3 million-2.35 million cars will be sold next years, including 680,000 Russian cars, 880,000 foreign cars assembled in Russia and 750,000-790,000 imported cars," Avtostat said in a statement.

Total new-car and LCV sales came to 1.9 million vehicles in 2010, Avtostat said.

The agency said that sales of new imported cars would replace automobiles produced in Russia. Models that are not assembled at Russian plants and are not in large demand will be imported. "Thanks to the extension of the scrappage program, demand for the Lada will be quite stable in 2011. However, the Lada's current market share (29.5%) will decrease by two to three percentage points," the experts said.

Avtostat said earlier that the recovery of the Russian automotive market is now moving faster than expected at the start of 2010. The Russian car market could expand by 20%-25% in 2011, the agency predicted.

The Lada 2105/2017 (Classic) built by Russia's largest automaker AvtoVAZ was the most-sold car in Russia last year, according to a statement issued by the AEB. Classic sales more than doubled to 136,000 vehicles.

The AvtoVAZ Priora followed the Classic as Russia's most-purchased domestic automobile at 125,235 vehicles sold (up 26%), then came the Kalina (108,900, up 79%) and the Samara (102,000, up 13%).

The most-sold foreign makes in Russia last year were the Ford Focus (67,000 vehicles, up 29%), Renault Logan (62,800, up 17%), Daewoo Nexia (43,900, up 56%), Chevrolet Niva (35,400, up 44%), and Chevrolet Lacetti (31,900, up 9%).

The AEB expects to see the Russian auto-market return to a pre-crisis level and reach sales of 2.8-2.9 million new cars and LCVs by the end of 2012, Thomas told the press on Thursday.