RUSSIA: Rolf Group upbeat on Russian market prospects

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 October 2007

Speaking exclusively to just-auto, the CEO and Chairman of Russian car distributor the Rolf Group said that his company is heading for another record year on the back of a booming Russian car market that has seen little impact from the effects of the credit squeeze in international money markets.

"Everything is booming and everybody is growing rapidly. There is significant short supply in all segments of the market," Matt Donnelly said.

"We had one or two worries that the credit squeeze would hurt us, but that doesn't seem to have slowed the market down much.

"Year-on-year September was running at about 179% of 2006," he added.

"We're seeing a lot of movement in the cheaper value-for-money cars - like Renaults and Chevrolets, but there is also a huge amount of growth for European and Japanese brands - Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi are at around 50% growth year-on-year."

Donnelly said that growth was strong in all segments and irrespective of whether vehicles were built locally or imported. The Russian industry is seeing a wave of investment from foreign OEMs, including Ford and Renault.

Donnelly noted, however, that fast-growing Renault's Russian manufacturing operation (Avtoframos, making the Logan) is not yet fully up and running and its growth in Russia has been based largely on imported models. Other manufacturers, such as Chevrolet, are also importing in volume if they have to, he said.

"It's all about price. None of the onshore manufacturers is significantly cheaper than their imported variants. There are simply queues for everything."

Dave Leggett