The optimism underpinning Renault’s decision to expand its Russian sales network was undermined last week when deliveries of the Mégane and Symbol (from the Bursa plant in Turkey) were turned away from Russian dealers in Tula, 200km south of Moscow.
Up to 150 transporters from Turkish car carrier Omsan lined the main route into Tula, and exasperated drivers, who had been stranded there for up to ten days without food, threatened to blockade the motorway into Moscow unless Renault provided a solution. Broadcaster Russia Today reported that Renault had failed to provide any contingency for the drivers, quoting one driver who said: “We live in our cabs like dogs in a kennel”.
The carmaker responded with promises to provide additional parking places for 700 cars. Company spokesperson Axelle de Ladonchamps said the number of transporters would be down to 20 by this week and that no more vehicles would be delivered from Bursa until further notice. The company is stopping vehicle production at the plant between the 3rd and 11th of November. Powertrain production there is not being affected and deliveries of parts and CKD are going ahead. Ladonchamps said that Renault sent a representative to provide stranded drivers with food and accommodation.
The build up was aggravated by the 27-day delivery time between Bursa and Moscow, indicating just how sudden the drop in car sales has been in Russia. More than half of all cars in Russia are bought on credit and this is having a sudden and dramatic affect.
Only three weeks ago Russia was considered to be largely exempt from the main effects of the credit crisis plaguing carmakers further west. Now dealer lots are crammed with vehicles following a rapid fall in sales between September and October.