Evolute instead of Jaguar I-Pace: how sanctions are changing Russia and Tatarstan’s e-car market

European and American brands are leaving the market, Chinese and Russians are replacing them

Evolute instead of Jaguar I-Pace: how sanctions are changing Russia and Tatarstan’s e-car market
Photo: Nikita Konovaltsev/realnoevremya.ru

In the last three years, the number of e-car owners in Tatarstan, according to calculations of Restart non-profit organisation developing the infrastructure of e-cars, has risen more than tenfold, but buying an e-car in Kazan is still a problem. Official supplies of renowned American and European brands are suspended because of the sanctions. Read in a review of Realnoe Vremya’s analytic staff how geopolitics influenced the e-car market, if parallel import is saving the day and when Russian e-cars will start to be sold.

“If there were registered just 80 e-cars in Tatarstan by early 2021 according to the Tatarstan Traffic Police’s data, there were 304 by early 2022. The total number of e-cars has quadrupled,” representative of Restart Rustem Galimzyanov told Realnoe Vremya. Official data on 2022 hasn’t yet been announced, but by Restart’s estimates, there are more than a thousand e-car owners in Tatarstan now. A federal programme designed to develop the infrastructure of charging stations encouraged the market, according to the programme 95 new charging stations are going to be installed by the end of the year.

Growing e-car sales in Russia

In the first half of 2022, the Russian passenger car market dropped by more than a half (-56%). But in the segment of new e-cars, according to Autostat, the picture is opposite. So in the last six months, Russians have bought nearly 1,300 e-cars, which is 53% more than during the same period last year.

“If we consider the results in the last 9 months of 2022, the e-car market in Russia continues growing. During this period, new e-car purchases have risen by 30% (against the same period last year), second-hand car purchases have by 4%,” said head of the agency’s press service Azat Timerkhanov. “But despite this, it is anyway at a very low level. In both cases, they account for less than 0,5% (new cars amount to 1,800, second-hand vehicles do 6,700 cars) of all passenger cars that have been bought.”

The e-car market started to grow because zero duties on e-car imports in Russia have been cancelled since 1 January 2022, therefore importers brought a big amount of cars in advance and sold their stock during the first months. Now there is a trend for a fall, but parallel import can fix the situation as well as the launch of production of Russian e-cars under the brand Evolute, which meet the terms of the state programme — almost a million rubles can be saved there.

Top regions in new e-car sales in 1H2022


number of e-cars sold





Moscow Oblast



Saint Petersburg



Krasnodar Krai



Perm Krai






Sverdlovsk Oblast



Nizhny Novgorod Oblast



Irkutsk Oblast



Chelyabinsk Oblast


Autostat analytic agency

The most popular e-car and hybrid vehicle models in Russia

Photo: Maxim Platonov/realnoevremya.ru

Competition in the market will grow

Big car dealerships sell e-cars in Kazan — TransTechService (TTS) and Kan Avto as well as Volvo Cars and Rucars, market players said.

“Only one our brand has been selling e-cars approximately since 2018 at TTS — Jaguar. The Jaguar I-Pace model has always been brought from Great Britain,” the press service of TTS told Realnoe Vremya. “The demand was very low. Two cars have been sold since the start of the year.” The press service noted that the sanctions influenced all car sales, while e-cars in general weren’t very popular. “They have always aroused interest but a handful dared to buy them,” TTS admitted.

Kan Avto started to sell e-cars in the first quarter this year within Kan Avto Expert Premium subdivision. “It is planned to transform a line of the brand Kan Avto Expert for e-cars,” said Director General of Mercedes-Benz Kan Avto Alexey Tarasov. Today Kan Avto sells Volkswagen ID4 and ID6 crossovers and different Tesla models including Model Y, Mercedes-Benz EQC and BMW e-cars. The starting price for the cars on sale at Kan Avto is 4 million rubles. Tarasov doesn’t reveal how many cars have been sold.

According to him, Tatarstan today is a rapidly developing market from a perspective of demand for e-cars. Firstly, because the charging infrastructure is developing, secondly, country houses are popular. The risk of suddenly running out of e-car battery for Kazan citizens and suburban residents is minimal, Tarasov thinks.

Tatarstan today is a rapidly developing market from a perspective of demand for e-cars. Photo: Maxim Platonov/realnoevremya.ru

Amid sanctions, many car supplies have been suspended now. The problem is solved with the help of parallel import. “E-cars are mostly coming from China — the country is a producer of e-cars with a big market share and also has friendly relations with Russia,” said Alexey Tarasov.

He thinks that there is competition in the market of e-cars and it will develop. “Those market players who can offer clients the full cycle of e-car service including the supply of spare parts, update of software, different options of guarantee, will win” Tarasov enumerated. “And those who can bring personalised ready-to-use cars.” The latter is especially topical given frequent cases of fraud and unmet commitments in supply agreements.”

Energydevelopment company also opened an e-car centre, the company’s Director Rail Gazetdinov told Realnoe Vremay. Due to the exit of many car makers from the Russian market, there is big demand for e-cars, and at the same time there are many individual players who supply cars on request with prepayment, which, sadly, often ends with cheating clients.

The number of rapid and slow charging stations grows day after day. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov/realnoevremya.ru

The decision to open a centre was made perfectly understanding that the infrastructure in Tatarstan was absolutely ready for the comfortable integration of e-cars, he says. The number of rapid and slow charging stations grows day after day. Many understand that e-cars aren’t remote tomorrow but today that is here, thinks Gazetdinov.

Mainly e-cars from China are exhibited at Energydevelopment’s car centre. The Chinese market is rapidly developing, particularly BYD car giant already refused to make cars with internal combustion engine and fully switched to e-cars, he puts an example. “But we don’t limit ourselves to the Asian market only and setting up contacts in Europe and the Arab Emirates,” the interlocutor said.

“Receiving the first calls from potential clients we understand that the market’s geographical footprint is much bigger than one city or republic and we focus on all Russia,” he shared.

Recharge auto also sold e-cars in Kazan until recently, but this year, as Director General of Lotos-L (Recharge auto) Oleg Polovinikhin acknowledged, it “temporarily left the market of Tatarstan.”

One in five Russians is ready to buy an e-car today. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov/realnoevremya.ru

“Our headquarters is in Lipetsk, and we continue working and selling e-cars with free delivery to one’s door in the European part of Russia,” he explained. “The exit from Russia is a temporary strategic decision, including because of the optimisation of costs. All staff was transferred from Kazan to Lipetsk where they are upgrading their qualification.” Polovinikhin assumes that many car centres will open in Kazan because “it is topical and interesting.” “We won’t bother each other, the market is huge, and the demand for the cars is big,” he thinks.

Evolute from Lipetsk heading for Kazan

As Realnoe Vremya found out, sales of Russian Evolute e-cars will start in Kazan soon too.

It should be reminded that the mass production of Evolute at Motorinvest plant in Lipetsk kicked off in late September. i-Pro sedan became the first model on the enterprise’s conveyor belt. The factory plans to make 2,000 e-cars by the end of the year. i-Joy crossovers and i-Van mini-vans will soon make the sedan company.

“We will announce the start of Evolute e-car sales in Kazan very soon,” the press service of Evolute confirmed for Realnoe Vremya. “Kan Avto is our official dealer in Kazan. The e-cars will be shortly available for order.” However, Kan Avto didn’t want to comment on this news for Realnoe Vremya.

Meanwhile Autostat and At the Wheel surveyed 1,200 people and learnt that one in five Russians is ready to buy an e-car today. Among those who want an e-car, 5,6% will choose Tesla, 4,2% will consider other options via parallel import, 3,9% will pick Evolute, 2,8% will wait for Kama, Moskvich and e-Largus, 2,5% will look for remains of Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche, 2,1% will prefer Chinese official JAC, Skywell cars.

“In the future e-cars are going to be sold on a producer’s subscription basis”

  • Iya Gordeyeva

    Iya Gordeyeva Chair of the Association for the Development of Electric, Unmanned, and Connected Transport and Infrastructure

    The impact of sanctions on this market is very serious. Such brands as Porsche Taycan, Audi E-Tron and Jaguar accounted for the main share of new e-car sales. I mean those e-cars that were sold officially. Today we can rely only on parallel import of these cars and the purchase of second-hand cars.

    If now we have a look at what is available in car dealerships, we will see quite an active growth of e-cars from China. It is BYD, HONGQI, Skywell and other brands that are delivered by individuals. Some companies claim they are going to officially supply these cars, that’s to say, they are going to have official documents for dealership, vehicle registration certificates, but at the moment Chinese brands don’t have all permits to be sold by legal entities.

    As for Evolute, time will show how this brand will develop. A special investment contract that was signed by Motorinvest and the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade isn’t designed for one year. It is aimed at 10 years. And this brand must gradually switch to Russian components. Of course, this year we won’t see big changes, but in the future I hope this brand will transform and will become quite a popular Russian car from a purely Chinese vehicle.

    Talking about other Russian projects, we know about plans for Moskvich and Kama, Zetta also announced its plans. And in the current market situation when the competition is down, I hope Russian e-cars will have more chances of seizing the market.

    It is yet early to talk about competition between brands. There was even funny news that e-cars from Uruguay were going to be supplied to Russia’s market. But to learn who is strong in this market people need to test and try them, not just drive a car but deal with service, supply of spare parts, the quality of diagnostics, which, in fact, will determine the popularity of a brand.

  • Lenar Kashapov

    Lenar Kashapov Director General of Electrifly

    There is more buzz about e-cars, therefore the demand for them is big today. The flow of e-car imports to Russia doesn’t decrease despite the sanctions. The case is that now they are imported otherwise. Earlier, e-cars used to come through Belarus, now they arrive through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, mainly it is Chinese cars.

    Nissan Leaf is the most popular car today. But as a rule, it is right-hand used cars that are sold for peanuts in Japan. And these cars become a problem because their batteries are almost flat, and they need to be somehow disposed of. The import of such car scrap is a risk, of course.

    With the appearance of a big number of car dealerships, buyers will feel better, of course. There are at least three reasons why an e-car should be bought in a car dealership. Firstly, there is a place you can return to with a complaint. Secondly, it is service maintenance. You cannot have any Tesla and Nissan Leaf repaired in Kazan. Thirdly, it is the possibility of buying on credit. When Porsche and Jaguar were still sold, they immediately became leaders despite a big grey market of e-cars because they were supplied mainly through leasing companies. Porche Taycan sold more quotas in Russia, thought the car costs 14 million rubles. Also, e-car owners have troubles with insurance, they cannot apply for a comprehensive car insurance. And e-cars aren’t equipped with GLONASS GPS. Perhaps, the appearance of car dealerships will solve these problems.

    In the future, e-cars are going to be sold on the producer’s subscription basis. Volvo Cars in Kazan planned to do so, the sanctions influenced these plans. Next cars will communicate producers through servers by sending data. There is going to be more online sales. Tesla, for instance, is sold in such a model.

  • Anton Matyunkin

    Anton Matyunkin expert in hydrid and e-car repair

    Indeed, e-cars are gaining popularity in Tatarstan. Firstly, the powerful bush telegraph has influence among e-car owners. Secondly, the dollar and euro rates have influenced the demand. Prices became much more interesting to buy e-cars abroad, including from Japan and Europe.

    Thirdly, it is advantages in use — no need to spend money on lubricants for the ordinary engine. Due to the sanctions, oil, consumables and spare parts have become much more expensive, many turned out to be in shortage, While some are simply impossible to bring: many supply channels are closed. Therefore an e-car started to be more attractive amid petrol and diesel cars. All technical maintenance boils down to the simple replacement of liquid in the gear and the cabin filter.

    And the fourth edge is that services and people who understand or want to start to know about these cars started to appear. Today fans who are interested in it deal with service. This niche is absolutely free. And the development of this area inspires hope into e-car owners that in case of an unpredictable situation you won’t be told: “You have an e-car, we know nothing about it. We don’t accept it for maintenance and service.” Unfortunately, such situations a very frequent. Infrastructure used to scare earlier when you buy an e-car and can go flat anytime. Now at least in Tatarstan there is no problem with the infrastructure. It is even full, while in some cities, for instance, in Kazan, it is saturated at times.

    Now most charging stations in Tatarstan are free, in other words, they are operating in test mode. Producers of charging stations are exploring the market: different cars come, everybody has specifics. All our producers — E-PROM and NSP — are open and invide rare and unusual cars that couldn’t get charged to their site where they test the car in real conditions with the software developer and make changes to the programme of the charging station.

  • Rustem Galimzyanov

    Rustem Galimzyanov representative of Restart NGO for the development of e-car infrastructure

    Now the trend in the purchase of e-cars turned its back to America and Europe where e-cars used to be brought from via Belarus and faced China via Kazakhstan. The fact that subsidised charging stations that are installed in pilot Russian regions in the charging infrastructure development programme are already equipped with “Chinese” GB/T charging ports encouraged and strengthened this trend. If earlier people doubted if to bring Chinese cars or not because the required adaptors or changes in these ports for European or Asian ones in the factory, now there is more confidence when making a decision.

    In general to develop the market it is necessary to create an official dealer. Now almost all e-cars are sold illegally. And some owners of charging stations claims that they aren’t responsible for charging the cars that aren’t authorised in Russia. In fact, there aren’t authorised cars in Russia except for premium Porsche, Audi and Jaguar.

    The market grows but it is grey. Grey smartphones used to be imported to Russia. It needs to be legalised. I myself bought Tesla from America after an accident. It was in a car accident, repaired in Minsk and sold. It is a box of chocolates, and nobody knows how all this can affect safety. What can happen to it when charging it at the station when we provide high current? There are risks.

    I support the creation of Evolute production in Russia — it is the first step, and I think it is very positive. Life will show if it will be bought. Of course, there are more interesting options for this money in the grey market. But it is a big plus that Evolute cars are sold legally. There will likely be found corporate clients for these cars, including taxi fleets and car sharing services. While individuals will probably continue buying cars in roundabout ways unless an official dealer or importer appears.

Yulia Garayeva