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Va va boom for Russia's luxury car sales

Friday, February 05, 2016 - 01:45

Russia's economic crisis sees car sales sharply down, except in the luxury sector where some brands continue to grow. David Pollard reports.

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They say branding's everything, but for Russia's ailing car market, it might be the only thing. Mass market auto sales have tumbled along with the rouble and oil prices. Top-name supercars like these though: their sales were up last year. Richard Leopold is Bentley Russia's head of luxury brands. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BENTLEY RUSSIA HEAD OF LUXURY BRANDS, RICHARD LEOPOLD, SAYING: "People don't get poor overnight, they don't get rich overnight, so there is some stability in the number of wealthy people in Russia and what we tend to see is that the luxury sector is more linked to new product arrivals. So when we see new products in the market from strong brands we see that they continue to sell." It is of course only a very few who can afford supercar prices. For the man or woman in the street - even the relatively affluent who drive a Mercedes - car buying decisions are being put off. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DRIVER, VLADIMIR, SAYING : "The dollar is growing, the rouble is really falling. So it's not advantageous at the moment." And even at the best of times, the most inexpensive cars are - relatively - very expensive. At around 4,700 dollars, this Lada Granta costs the best part of an average year's wages. Vladimir Bespalov is a transport analyst with VTB Capital. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VTB CAPITAL TRANSPORT ANALYST, VLADIMIR BESPALOV, SAYING: "Prices for luxuries and expensive cars didn't go up that significantly so it was a kind of a good opportunity to buy good luxury cars for those people who had money. With the mass segment the situation is very different because people are very sensitive to the economic conditions in Russia. Their incomes are going down." Russia's rich ... if not getting richer, then certainly still able to enjoy the trappings .....

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Va va boom for Russia's luxury car sales

Friday, February 05, 2016 - 01:45