Russia’s new car sales recover to 1.06 million units in 2023

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Sales of new cars in Russia rebounded in 2023 to 1.06 million units, data from Russian analytical agency Autostat showed on Wednesday, as the industry partially recovered from sanctions and the departure of many foreign automakers.

The revival, a 69% year-on-year increase, fell short of car sales in 2021, the year before Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, when 1.51 million vehicles were sold.

In December 2023, new car sales were 110% higher year-on-year, the data from Autostat and its partner consulting company PPK showed.

Chinese carmakers have been plugging the gaps left by their departing Western competitors. But Chinese car sales appear to have peaked at more than 56% of the market as Russia’s domestic production now recovers.

This year, Autostat experts believe sales will increase by 18% to 1.25 million units, or a 32% increase to 1.4 million units in their more optimistic scenario.

Autostat head Sergei Tselikov said Chinese automakers and local producers would meet growing demand in 2024.

“There is a desire (from Chinese carmakers) to sell up to 2 million on the Russian market and there is a desire from people to buy them,” Tselikov said at a conference.

Factories idled since Western automakers departed over Russia’s actions in Ukraine are also likely to restart this year, Tselikov added.

In its pessimistic scenario, Autostat envisages a decline in sales to 1 million units this year.

(Reporting by Reuters, Gleb stolyarov and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones)