"The market is there - everybody is waiting a  bit," Mercedes-Benz Sprinter head of quality in Nizhny Novgorod Mario Wildgrube

"The market is there - everybody is waiting a bit," Mercedes-Benz Sprinter head of quality in Nizhny Novgorod Mario Wildgrube

Mercedes-Benz Vans Russia's supply quality control unit says it does not make sense to "go in and out" of the troubled market, which is currently beset by myriad challenges stemming partly from international disapproval of what many see as Moscow's actions in Eastern Ukraine and de facto annexation of Crimea.

Month after month of gloomy numbers from the Association of European Businesses (AEB) has seen some predict the market could plunge to 1.5m vehicles this year, although that undoubtedly most pessimistic estimate is being tempered by a stabilising rouble and the shaky holding of a somewhat porous ceasefire deal in Ukraine.

"The market is there - at the moment everybody is waiting a bit," Mercedes-Benz Sprinter head of quality, Mario Wildgrube told just-auto on the German manufacturer's production line at partner GAZ Group's factory in Nizhny Novgorod.

"It does not make sense to go in and out. If you have a foot in the door, you should not remove it that fast. Let's call it a kind of investment, but of course we want to sell. At the moment there is no discussion to cancel production and go back to Germany.

Mercedes-Benz started production of its Sprinter van in 2013 and exceeded the 10,000 unit level last month using around 250 localised Russian parts as well as those from traditional supplies such as Takata, Lear and Pirelli.

In 2014 the German company sold a record 6,600 Sprinters, with the Classic the most popular Mercedes-Benz van in Russia and top among foreign brands.

The van has the OM646 engine, built in Yaroslavl, while all models have electronic stability control, ABS and ASR as standard.

"You never know how it will go further with Russia as it is a bit unstable but the market is there," added Wildgrube. "Of course we want to have a piece of that cake.

"If you see our competitors, we are number three in the market already - of course we want to exceed our market share."

Wildgrube noted GAZ Group supplier division, Autocomponent, would start delivering stamping parts to Mercedes-Benz next week as part of the German manufacturer's drive to source locally.

"It is really quite easy to work with them - we really localise Russian suppliers - sometimes some support is needed. They are sometimes not used to our processes.

"It is not easy but that is why we are here to support them. Faurecia, Magna, Lear, Continental are already here, therefore we are a bit riding the wave of them."

The Mercedes-Benz-GAZ venture to produce the Sprinter Classic under licence cost around EUR100m for production facilities and sales support.

Local content is around 40% by value and assembly created about 1,000 new jobs in Nizhny Novgorod as well as at the engine factory in Yaroslavl.