Russia Now Produces As Many Cars As The USSR Did At Its Peak

As I write the book, I create a lot of graphs. Here is one of them.


So in manufacturing terms, as far as cars are concerned, the “deindustrialization” era is decidedly over.

Of course it’s also important to note that in 1985 they were producing this whereas today they are producing this as well as various foreign brands. Plus for every two cars produced and sold in Russia today, one is imported, for total yearly sales of 2.9 million in 2012 (about the same as in Brazil – 3.6 million, Germany – 3.3 million, and India – 2.7 million).

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  • There is a Skoda plant in Podmoskovye I have heard, I bet there are other foreign brands assembled in Russia.

    • AK

      Yes, there are tons of them. The main foreign automobile production clusters are in Kaluga and Saint-Petersburg.

    • Little Pig

      I think that there are nearly 20 foreign brands produced in Russia. Check Wikipedia. Most of them are only assembled in Russia, most of details being produced abroad, but they are opening new factories now to produce them here.

    • Jen

      @ Leos: General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Nissan and Renault have expressed interest in opening new car-manufacturing plants in Russia. I first saw this article in The Sydney Morning Herald last year and sourced it back to The New York Times:

  • Albo

    There’s a wealth of jokes about the Lada in European countries

    I don’t know if the new models have been improved. The brand still looks low-end tho.
    I learned that the Soviet Union had a luxury brand, ZiL, and that there are talks to revive its limousine production

    They could as well resume the production of up-to-date luxury sedans. Marussia sports cars represent a laudable effort to create high-end russian vehicles, but assembling their cars in Finland kind of betray the name, I suppose.

  • Largely due to the growth in the consumer class due to high oil prices and protectionist measures imposed by the Russian government. Take away either of those and watch industrial production dry up.

    • Russian auto industry protectionism an a par with this perhaps?

      Ernst Young has stated in its report “An overview of the Russian and CIS automotive industry February 2012” that “We remain positive about the long-term prospects of the Russian automotive industry and believe that the next few years will bring additional significant investment, particularly in the supplier sector”.

      What’s the matter?

      Don’t you also wish every success to capitalism in Russia as well?

    • I have relatives who are big time consumers, and none of them ever see any of that oil money. How could that be?

  • The car I would want most in the world if I bought one (I won’t do so for ecological reasons but anyway) is a proud Soviet-produced Volga GAZ 21.

  • Doug M.

    Don’t forget that world automobile production has increased by about 80% over that same period, from around 32 million / year in 1991 to around 57 million / year today. So, while Russia has caught up with the USSR in absolute terms, in relative terms (as a percentage of total world production) they still have a long way to go.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia did eventually catch up in that respect too. But I would expect it to take at least another decade, because they’re chasing a moving target.

    (By the way, is that graph automobiles only, or does it include commercial vehicles (trucks) as well? Because the numbers for the latter are much smaller, but the per-unit contribution to GDP is of course much larger.)

    Doug M.

    • AK

      It includes both. Here are the most detailed statistics for everyone.

      The bulk of the growth was mostly the developed world. China alone increased from 5,000 (!) in 1985 to 18 million in 2012.

    • Albo

      Yes but since Russia only has half the population the USSR had, I guess the performance is on par (yes it’s a gross simplification since Russia had the lion’s share of automative industries, but still)

  • Tim

    Mr. Alyoshin (Lada brand producer) in his interview said: “They write a lot of things about us. They even say we have 40 Vice-presidents, they spin the figures out of thin air. I guarantee – AutoVAZ has 12 senior Vice-President and 24 Linear Vice-President positions. Thats all”

    That’s all – no hydraulic booster but 36 vice-presidents)
    There is a joke here in Russia that AutoVAZ can’t conduct it’s new cars crash-tests because the manikin always tries to get out of the car)))

    The only reason of success of russian auto-producers are high import duties. Just go to official site of any international producer and compare the prices. I did it with VW Touareg V6 TDI:
    Russia 77500 USD
    US 47500 USD

    Nevertheless I drive Toyota. I’d better pay more but get quality and safety.

    • timivanov

      I meant – Mr. Alyoshin, the former president of AutoVAZ (Lada brand producer)