The exhibition included heavy and light duty trucks for most applications, buses and coaches, trailers and bodies, vans, special vehicles, components and systems as well as various services for the transport and commercial vehicle industry. Wabco, for instance, unveiled its electronic tire pressure monitoring technology.
This was the 11th time for the show. The 450,000 square feet of exhibition space had doubled from last year, while the number of exhibitors grew by 70%, with more than 320 companies participating. These numbers clearly show the growth of the commercial vehicle market in Russia and make COMTRANS the biggest truck- and transportation show in Europe for 2011.
It took place on Moscow's most modern trade fairground, the Crocus Exhibition Center, which was completed in 2006.
Of course the domestic Russian OEMs were there, such as Daimler joint-venture partner Kamaz, GAZ Group, Amo Zil, Nefaz, Tagaz, Maz and others. So were more well-known names to the Western world, including Volvo, Scania, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Ford, Iveco, Fiat, Hino, Isuzu and Hyundai. And from China, Dong Feng, FAW (First Auto Works) and Foton had trucks displayed.
The Russian market
For the first six months of 2011, Russia produced 92,795 trucks, which is 46% more than for the same period the previous year. Truck sales for the first six months of 2011 increased by 86% to 142,400.
The most rapidly growing segment was import of new trucks, which increased 2.7 times to 52,630 trucks - which extended a market share to 37 percent. Sales of imported second-hand vehicles rose by 52.6 percent to 7,110 while this part decreased by 1.1 point - to 5%. Because of a special custom duty implemented a few years ago, the used truck import has decreased dramatically.
Presently Euro 3 is the norm, but Euro 4 will be the standard of new vehicles by January 1, 2012. Western Europe at that time starts moving from Euro 5 to Euro 6 - which is very close to EPA 2010.
All western OEMs with a presence on the Russian market have or are about to start local production due to the high custom duties on imported trucks.
Daimler has a joint venture (15% stake) with the biggest domestic OEM Kamaz. The new Kamaz-5490 tractor displayed at the show features for instance a cab sourced from Mercedes Axor. The Actor and the Unimog from Daimler are built in Naberezhnye Chelny.
Volvo's presence in Russia goes back to 1969, when the brand was officially registered in the then-USSR. There are currently some 60,000 Volvo trucks in Russia.
In 1973, Volvo Trucks delivered 100 tractors to USSR for international transports. That was the first delivery of such a large amount of western trucks. In 2003 a Volvo factory in Zelenograd opened for CKD-assembly (assembly of "completely knocked down" kits.) 2008 was a record year in sales with 5,800 new Volvo trucks sold.
In January 2009, in spite of financial unrest, the company inaugurated its plant in Kaluga as the first foreign full-scale truck factory in Russia. Annual capacity is 10,000 Volvo trucks.
At COMTRANS, Volvo displayed seven models, all with Russian names of winds like Taifun, Uragan, Briz, Kasatka, Vikhr and Ocean. It also showed off its most powerful Volvo FH16, which produces 750 horsepower, with torque of slightly over 2,618 pounds-feet.
Scania had 12 vehicles, eight inside and four outside, among them an interesting 6x4 dump truck with a 23 square-meter body. The P420's legal GVV is 32 ton, increased to 40 ton when running in a mine etc. It has twin steering axles.
Scania runs a truck plant in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad. The company has delivered vehicles to this part of the world for more that 100 years. This year Scania may become the market leader in sales of new heavy trucks in Russia with already in August more than 4,000 trucks delivered to customers. That is some 31% of the market.
Paccar's subsidiary DAF of Netherlands recently opened a Moscow office to further expand the make's presence on the Russian market. Together with its dealers Van Hulle (VH) from Moscow and Lengo from Saint Petersburg, DAF exhibited the CF85 tractor for regional applications, as well as the XF105 models for long-distance haulage.
In the first eight months of 2011, MAN (like Scania a part of the Volkswagen Group) delivered 4,282 trucks over 6 tons and 152 coaches to Russia. The number of units sold in the full year 2011 is set to be about twice as high as in 2010. This will make Russia the second largest market for MAN Truck & Bus after Germany. MAN is currently setting up a truck production plant in St. Petersburg. As early as 2012 a quarter of the trucks it sells in Russia are expected to be produced locally
The Ural "crew bus" from the vast GAZ-group (headed by the Swede Bo Inge Andersson - a former General Motors VP) is a 6x6, cab-over-engine, YaMZ-2362 engine designed for the eternal tundra on the Siberian oil fields in temperatures ranging from 50 below to 104 degrees on all types of roads and terrain. Its 412-horsepower, six-cylinder YaMZ-650 Euro-4 diesel engine is produced under a Renault-Trucks license. The main components, such as powertrain, transmission, three-circuit brake system with ABS, lighting and others, are supplied by leading West European manufacturers to ensure high reliability.
Russia has come a long way from the Wild West/Gangland era that characterized the initial post-collapse years of the former Soviet Union. Still, a very large part of the truck population is very old. And the traffic density in and around Moscow is terrible.
So modernizing the country and building the economy will take lots of new commercial trucks and vans to get goods and services to the market. But as one western CEO expressed in his presentation: Everything takes a bit longer here.