Russian diary #2: historical background, and encouraging present-day performance
The early days
Renault cars made their first appearance in Russia at the 1907 Petrograd International Motor Show. At this illustrious event, Tsar Nicolas II expressed his admiration for French industry – and for the Renault 40 CV in particular. He duly ordered two for his personal service, and further orders would follow.
The fleet of Tsar Nicolas II at the turn of the 20th century
Sensing the importance of the Russian market, in January 1914 Louis Renault decided to build two plants in Russia, one in Petrograd to make trucks and chassis, and one in Rybinsk to build aircraft engines.
In 1916, Rousski Renault, the Russian subsidiary of Société des Automobiles Renault, set up shop on the banks of the Neva. By 1917, the Petrograd plant had a workforce of 1,000. But things would soon change, with the Russian Revolution. Work was suspended, and the plants were nationalized in 1919. Ironically enough, the factories are still in use today, making mopeds, water pumps and engines.
A long lapse followed. From 1966 to 1983, Renault signed various agreements with Russian organizations, on engineering, supply and production of equipments. Partners would include Moskvitch (on cars), Kamaz (lorries), Kharkov (tractors), Alexandria (contactors) and Pskov (welding machines).
In 1996, Renault signed a partnership agreement with Avtoframos. Then a year later an agreement was signed with Moskvitch on assembly of Mégane Classic. A Russian sales subsidiary was formed. And in 1998, the Avtoframos plant on the outskirts of Moscow was built to make and sell Renault-badged Logans. As we noted in our first issue, this marked the start of a vibrant industrial adventure, one major development in which would be the partnership with Avtovaz.
Renault in Russia today
With 154,734 registrations and a market share of 5.83% in 2011 (up by 0.7% on 2010), Renault ranked fourth on the Russian car market in 2011, behind Lada, Chevrolet and Hyundai. Renault sees Russia as its fourth biggest market in the short-term future, and targets an 8% share of the Russian market by 2016.
Renault Sandero enjoys major success on the Russian market
To reach this goal, Renault intends to take up a position as a leading B-segment brand, offering a wide range of vehicles affordable across the broadest possible spectrum of the population. Russian consumers have a large choice of models. Some are made locally: Logan, Sandero (including Stepway), Duster, Mégane Berline and Fluence. Other models are imported: Clio, Mégane (Coupé and RS), Kangoo, Scénic, Laguna Coupé, Koleos and Latitude. The commercial vehicles on offer are Trafic, Master are Kangoo.
Renault Latitude at the 2010 Moscow Motor Show
Renault’s major successes on the Russian market include Logan (81,909 units sold in 2011) and Sandero (45,695 units, up by 138% on 2010). Duster looks set to meet with a similarly resounding success. One particularity these three vehicles have in common is that they were specially designed for Russia, and feature an automatic transmission.
Renault Duster, future best-seller in Russia?
Renault has a nationwide network of 140 sales outlets in 93 towns, and is present in all Russian cities with populations of more than 300,000. It aims to have more than 200 outlets 2013. The network achieves excellent customer satisfaction results, in sales and aftersales. As in other countries, Russian customers have access to round-the-clock Renault Assistance.