Lada boss Bo Andersson has unveiled a new plan which will see the company return to a 20 per cent market share in Russia by 2016. In addition, the brand wants to be building one million cars per year by the end of the decade.
The move comes following news that Lada’s parent company Avtovaz – now owned by Renault-Nissan – will be cutting back production in Russia by 25,000 units for three months over fears of poor demand in the country.
Russia's car market contracted by 5.5 per cent to 2.78 million units last year, while Lada's global sales were also down by 19 per cent, at 481,000 units.
Speaking to Autocar at the Moscow motor show, where Lada launched three new models – the X-Ray compact SUV, Vesta compact saloon and WTCC-ready Vesta racer – Andersson said focusing on Lada’s home market was his top priority.
“Our first focus is Russia. This is a very competitive market and if we’re not competitive here then we can’t be competitive elsewhere,” he said “ But what we are also thinking about is our key export markets. Germany has always been a big market for Lada, as is Sweden and Egypt.
“The first focus is the Russian federation, then the former Soviet Union and finally export markets. If we’re not successful here [in Russia] then we won’t be in those countries.”
Building that success will involve turning some customer’s perceptions of Lada around. As Andersson says: “When we look at the customers half don’t like us and half love us.
“The most important thing is that we need to improve service at the dealers. People come to the dealership and they say parts aren’t covered by warranty. We’ve created new rapid deployment forces which can go out and fix an issue. We are rebuilding loyalty.
“Nobody will buy a Lada if we’re not competitive, so we’re also improving quality. People want a good gearbox, good steering, good brakes and air conditioning. For most customers that’s enough, they don’t want all the electronics, just the things they need.”
Despite the country's uncertain future, though, Andersson remains optimistic: “We plan for the worst and we hope for the best.
“The big thing that is happening this year is that five million used cars will be sold [in Russia]. Now we can say why buy a three-year old European car when you can buy a new Lada for the same price?”
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