Even if the Russian economy is going backwards, Daimler is still determined to build a plant in the country to further support the expanding of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
The prospects of the Russian auto market are on the same trend as the country’s economic situation. All major automakers are refraining from making further investment plans there, trying to find new ways to counteract the sales downfall. Nevertheless, the fifth sales record year in a row in 2015 reported by Mercedes-Benz has made Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche to be optimistic and the company remains committed to building a new plant in Russia. “Yes, that is something we are pursuing,” Zetsche told Automotive News Europe this week at the Detroit Auto Show. This plan comes at a time when Russia car sales are in a steep decline. In the first 11 months of last year, 1.45 million cars were sold, according to data from Moscow-based lobby group the Association of European Businesses, a 35 percent decrease, and the collapse is not going to be stopped so easily. November 2015 sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles dropped 42.7 percent from a year earlier, after a 38.5 percent fall in October and a 29 percent decline a month earlier.
Zetsche said Mercedes has done “extremely well” despite the country’s overall sales weakness. “Our market share is remarkable,” he said. “But, of course, we can’t totally go against the trend.” Mercedes was the top-selling premium automaker in Russia throughout 11 months with a volume of 38,797 units, down 14 percent, and a 2.67 percent market share. Car sales in Russia might go down even further in 2016, with 14 percent, if the country goes into a second year of recession, as it was announced by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.