Dr. Iain Corness

These are the nations with the most new cars and trucks sold in 2012:

1. China, 17.4 million

2. U.S., 14.5 million

3. Japan, 5.2 million

4. Brazil, 3.6 million

5. Germany, 3.3 million

6. India, 3.2 million

7. Russia, 2.9 million

8. U.K., 2.3 million

9. France, 2.3 million

10. Canada, 1.7 million

That list was published at the beginning of this month, but already it looks as if Russia is poised to take 5th slot by the end of the decade.

The report, from global firm Boston Consulting Group, projects that Russia’s auto market, which totals about 2.9 million sales annually, will grow at an annual rate of 6 percent through the end of the decade and surpass 4.4 million per year.

Brave lad in a Lada.Brave lad in a Lada.

Russia is currently seventh - it was tenth in 2009 - but will be aided in coming years by special government programs to entice citizens to buy cars.  In addition, automakers like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have recently built plants in Russia for locally produced products.

Only China, the U.S., India and Brazil will be larger auto markets by 2020, according to the BCG report.  Russia will surpass Germany as the largest auto market in Europe by that time, though many in the industry expect that to happen in the next few years.

Though Russian auto sales are expected to fall this year compared to last - an assumption from analysts based on a scenario where the government won’t offer subsidies to citizens who buy low-priced cars, something auto executives expect will happen - the long-term prognosis is that localizing production will boost the Russian economy, and in turn, result in auto sales growth.

Overall automakers will invest more than $10 billion in upgrades and expansions in Europe through 2020, according to BCG.

Ford just finished building a plant with its joint-venture Ford Sollers in record time and will also build a new $274 million engine plant in Russia.  The Dearborn automaker will triple its capacity in Russia to about 350,000 units in coming years.

GM is in the midst of a $1 billion investment push in Russia to increase annual production capacity from about 100,000 to 230,000 vehicles.

Those capacity additions will not only help automakers fill the demand for autos in Russia, but also in nearby countries like Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, where auto markets are still in their infancy stages.  Anyone looking for a 30 year old Lada?

Thursday, 01 August 2013 10:01


A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that in 1961 a front engined car ran in a Grand Prix.  I asked what was it?  It was the Ferguson FF, which a few of you got correct.  However, I went on to ask what was different about the Ferguson’s braking system for the Grand Prix?  And suggested you think hard about this!  You see, the answer was that the Ferguson did have Dunlop anti-lock brakes, but they never used them in the Grand Prix - but don’t ask me why!

Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:59

Cover me patrolman

Ford Motor Co. has a new surveillance system for police cars that automatically sounds a chime, locks the doors and puts up the windows if it detects someone approaching the car from behind.  The system - which Ford is patenting - is the first of its kind. Backup cameras and sensors usually only work when a car is in reverse.

Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:57

What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?

Well, we did learn (if we didn’t know before) that Hamilton (Mercedes) is a first class driver, and has a good tactical head on his shoulders.  He drove a faultless race and was a very popular winner.  To see “The Finger” (Vettel) relegated to third was sweet music for the British fans who cheered every time Grosjean (“Lotus”) attempted to pass the German, making Vettel’s loss very popular.

Bentley over the past few years has built some delectable motor cars, with superb styling, powerful sports tourers in the grand manner.  That is what the name Bentley conjures up.  However, we are going to get a Bentley SUV by 2016, and from the concept shots, it is a nauseating shocker.  I was going to write Fugly, which is probably a better description.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 17:02

Mata Hari revisited

If you have not heard of the Mata Hari restaurant, where have you been for the past 18 years?  Mata Hari Restaurant and Wine Bar has been one of the foremost restaurants in the Pattaya fine dining scene.  Run by Louis Noll and his wife, he will modestly disagree with the ‘fine dining’ appellation, so I will instead call it superb food in a fine dining environment.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 15:08

Getting to the bare bones of the problem

A few weeks ago, I had what I thought was an inconsequential minor fall, more of a slip really when climbing some steps.  “Ouch” and that was it and I continued climbing.  The next morning my knee was aching and a little stiff, but you ignore these minor problems as you get older.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 11:33

Hungarian GP this weekend

As a racing venue, Hungary has a long history, with its first GP run in 1906, and regular events in Budapest since 1926.  Built with state backing, and laid out in a natural amphitheatre, the Hungaroring opened in 1986 and attracted an estimated 200,000 spectators.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 11:30

300 km/h on a Sunday afternoon

There are very few road cars that will allow you to clock 300 km/h and even fewer roads that could accommodate you.  I’ve been there.  But I hasten to add this was not on a public road, it was the Calder Raceway in Victoria, Australia, and the car was a Lola T430 Formula 5000 racing car.

One of the more professional series locally is the Grand Prix International Pro Racing Series.  Well managed, with events that run to time and a very professional attitude to scrutineering of the cars and the drivers’ apparel.  Even to verifying the date stamp on the driver’s helmets.  The cars also have a higher standard in preparation.

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