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Russians still like European, Japanese and Korean cars



Russians are still loyal to the well-known, usual European, Japanese, and South Korean car brands, despite the lack of official deliveries to Russia and the influx of Chinese cars. The Russian financial media outlet Kommersant reports the news.

The most active demand on marketplaces in 2023, among used cars up to three years old, was for Hyundai and Kia, as well as popular models from Toyota and VW. In the premium segment, half of the top 10 were BMW models. Dealers and analysts point out that in the premium segment, demand will focus on traditionally popular brands, despite the tightening of import conditions. Recall that the EU has imposed several heavy sanctions.

Avito Auto indicated the most popular cars up to three years old in 2023. The evaluation was based on the number of contact requests in advertisements. The top 10 models in both mass and premium segments mostly include brands popular in previous years that, since 2022, have not been officially introduced. Thus, in the mass segment, these are Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio, popular business sedans Toyota Camry and Kia K5, and Volkswagen Polo and Kia Sportage. Among the cars that can be officially purchased in Russia, only two models are on the list: Lada Granta and Vesta, as well as two Geely cars, Monjaro and Coolray.
Geely models used to be actively imported into Russia by circumventing the distributor, including individuals through Asian countries, as they were cheaper, but as of April 1, this possibility of avoiding duties will cease.

Korean bestsellers may be returning to the market, albeit under a different name: AGR has taken over the Hyundai plant in St. Petersburg and started producing cars under the Solaris brand. The HC and KRS models are copies of the Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio (see Kommersant of Feb. 22).

In the premium segment, half of the top 10 are BMW models.

The brand was the leader in the premium segment before the crisis, but officially has not been supplying cars in Russia since 2022. Also on the list are the Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, AMG, and E-Class. In addition to them, the top 10 includes two Chinese electric cars, the Zeekr 001 and Voyah Free. Zeekr is not represented in the Russian Federation, but it is the brand’s electric cars that will become the best-selling electric cars in 2023, according to Avtostat estimates. Although Motorinvest, a company based in Lipetsk, officially imports Voyah into the Russian Federation, versions intended for the Chinese market are available at dealers and in markets. But as of October 1, 2023, a ban on parallel imports of brands officially represented in Russia will go into effect.

In 2023, the share of imports bypassing official distributors will account for 12 percent of the automotive market, “Avtostat” estimates. This is about 130,000 cars. At the same time, the top-10 of the new car market (considering cars up to three years old) is dominated by the brands Kia (33.6 thousand), Hyundai (24.6 thousand), and Toyota (23.3 thousand), despite the lack of official deliveries. BMW car sales were 9.1 thousand and exceeded, for example, the Chinese Jetour that is officially sold in Russia.

Despite duties and sanctions, the consumer is still king

Political contrasts should have zeroed in on the Russian market for European, Korean, and Japanese cars: the EU and the U.S. imposed heavy sanctions, while Russia, in turn, imposed import duties, mainly affecting cars from hostile countries. Despite this, Russian dealers, who directly feel demand, expect stable demand, especially for the luxury segment.

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