Top 10 best sold cars in 2020: Japan’s furore and decline in Russian automotive industry

Car sales in January-November 2020

Sales of new cars have notably dropped in Russia as well as in other countries. Car sales in our country have reduced by 10%. Shutdowns of 120 largest car plants around the world during COVID-19 restrictions and a deficit after that have impeded the car market from growing. But the situation can improve in early 2021 already, experts surveyed by Realnoe Vremya think.

Minus 10% a year

The top 10 best sold cars in Russia hasn’t considerably changed this year. Only eight brands have shown negative annual growth numbers, even the top 3: LADA, KIA and Hyundai.

Statistics prove that the market has plunged. During the first 11 months of the year, 10% fewer cars have been sold in the country than during the same period in 2019 — 1,42 million. Indicators of 16 models in 20 best sold cars have worsened. Nevertheless, sales of three models have even increased over the year. It Hyundai’s Creta (by 0,7%), low-cost sedan by Volkswagen Polo (by 2,5%). However, Toyota RAV4 has made a real furore in the market — its sales have risen by 29% in a year at once to 33,000 cars. This model has been sold more than, for instance, Lada Largus, which is losing its momentum (see reasons below).

“Volkswagen Polo is competitive enough compared to its Korean mates from this category. Moreover, it is a European brand with high quality, while the model’s fuel consumption is one of the lowest in its class. RAV4 looks very fresh in a new design. It has somehow got ‘lost’ in the last years, and now it has changed dramatically. Creta entered the market as a very competitive model compared first among other SUV class models — thanks to its quality and price. And the SUV segment grows for different reasons — also, thanks to its functions, ability to drive on bad roads. Plus, the driver of this car can see further in traffic than a sedan driver,” notes Ruslan Abdulnasyrov, director general of Apelsin car dealership and head of the association Tatarstan Car Dealers talking about leaders in sales growth.

Yevgeny Yeskov, editor-in-chief of AutoBusinessReview magazine, also names upgrade as the main reason for the growth of these models.

“Also, these cars are among the most popular new cars, they have also been upgraded over the last year. A new generation of RAV4 was released last autumn, even though the car logically increased in price, its buyers still love it, hence their high activity.”

Hyundai succeeds with Creta, while new style is expected from Largus

Another model — Skoda Rapid — is considered by Avtostat’s method to be “from scratch” because the model has been upgraded. Consequently, there is no last year’s data on it. By the way, the Czech manufacturer itself has become a leader in the annual growth of general car sales — the indicator has grown by 6,9% at once. During the first 11 months of the year, nearly 85,000 cars of this brand have been sold in Russia — more than Toyota and Nissan. Yevgeny Yeskov from AutoBusinessReview thinks that the renovation of Rapid is the reason. Moreover, he notes Octavia, which is more accessible than its rivals, for instance, Jetta or Golf by Volkswagen.

Besides Skoda, only one manufacturer has shown growth in the top 10, though insignificant. It is BMW. Sales of the Bavarian car haven’t increased notably — by 1,5%, the producer is the last in the top with 38,000 cars.

Sales of other brands have collapsed. Kia has a record reduction in the top 3 — 12,6%. The manufacturer’s most popular model Rio has decreased by 9,2%, while Sportage has by 17,4%. Hyundai has lost 10% of the sales — despite a relative success of Creta, the Korean producer has Solaris whose numbers have gone down by 19%. Tucson’s sales aren’t very optimistic — they have reduced by 7,2%.

Lada hasn’t decreased as much as its opponents — by 7,3%. Moreover, two models of AvtoVAZ still occupy the first two lines on the list of the most sold cars in Russia. Granta with 112,000 cars is first, but it also has decreased notably — by 7,9%. Vesta with 96,000 is second, but the fall in sales is just 4,4%. Less popular models — Lada Largus and 4x4 — have gone down more dramatically — by 17% and 10% respectively.

Renault also has sad numbers. Moreover, if Logan’s fall hasn’t turned out to be so critical, by 5,5%, numbers of another three models from the top 20 have decreased significantly. For instance, Sandero sales have worsened by 14%, Duster’s — by 19%, while Kaptur has been a model with the biggest decrease in sales among all models — the indicator has plunged by 21%.

“Perhaps, Duster has become obsolete, it is waiting for an upgrade next year. Moreover, some clients might have chosen Hyundai Creta. As for Renault Kaptur, even though the model has been upgraded this year, the competition in the SUV segment is stiff, which might also influence Kaptur sales. Plus, the car has a variator some clients are afraid of,” Yevgeny Yeskov explains the reduction in sales of Renault cars.

As for the three leaders — Granta, Vesta and Kia Rio, Yeskov notes that all three models have decreased more than the market in general. While Lada Largus seems to be sold worse because it hasn’t been upgraded for long — its style will change precisely in early 2021.

Half of federal regions choose Granta, Far East prefers RAV4

It is interesting at the same time that the most popular car models vary depending on the federal region.

According to Avtostat, Granta is the most popular model only in half of the federal regions. It is Volga Federal Okrug, Northern Caucasian as well as the Urals and the South.

Hyundai Creta chairs the top in another two federal regions — in Northwest and Siberian. We should remind you that the car has been only fourth across Russia with 66,500 sold cars.

According to the analytic agency, Kia Rio has become a leader in Central Federal Okrug (it is third in Russia with 77,900 cars). While the Far East that has obviously and long attracted by Asian cars has chosen Toyota RAV4, which ranks seventh in Russia with 33,000 cars. Far East residents probably prefer inexpensive second-hand and right-hand cars over new low-cost vehicles.

Deficit will end, and it will get better

Experts predictably negatively evaluate 2020 for Tatarstan’s car market. Ruslan Abdulnasyrov notes that the first half of the year was very sad.

“Car dealers closed then, people were in a panic. Of course, there was no readiness to make purchases. The second half of the year was more ‘vivid’, the demand turned out to be above the capabilities of car plants and manufacturers,” he says.

According to him, neither did the second half of the year allow reaching the result that had been forecasted before the pandemic. “We could have compensated the first half of the year and reached our expected numbers if car plants had supplied cars. But the production chain is very long — it also consists of suppliers of components. One of the manufacturers still has 1,500 cars, they are ready for shipment, but the cars don’t have windscreens. Some cars are staying idle without the centre console. While Russia has an enormous deficit of more or less marketable brands. The demand is approximately at last year’s level.”

Yevgeny Yeskov from AutoBusinessReview talks about the deficit: “The results in 2020 seem to be better than car manufacturers expected at the beginning of the pandemic or after the first half of the year. So the magazine thinks that the market of new cars in Russia will total 1,522 million cars in 2020. In any case, the market has collapsed. Mainly pent-up demand because of the restrictions, pandemic and state support measures influenced the improvement of the result. However, amid the deficit, dealers have a chance of increasing sales profitability and compensating for part of the losses they have carried this year,” he says.

Talking about expectations of the new 2021, the surveyed experts aren’t prone to claim everything will bounce back to 2019. Yevgeny Yeskov thinks that nothing is clear about the main challenge of 2020 — the pandemic:

“It is unknown yet how the situation will develop. In general, such factors as the growth of prices for new cars and clients’ fall in income will impede the demand from growing. First of all, state support measures as well as car manufacturers’ own financial programme, that’s to say, those instruments that make a purchase of a new car more accessible for a client will be able to support it.”

Ruslan Abdulnasyrov has a more optimistic mood. He says the situation with a shortage of cars should change in January. “This is why, one has to wait for a bit to buy a car without additional accessories,” he advises.

By Maksim Matveyev