Why is Russia the place to be right now for carmakers?

Russian workers assemble a Renault 'Sandero' hatchback auto at a plant in Moscow.

The Moscow International Auto show is about to open. And ahead of it General Motors has announced a $1 billion investment over the next five years, building cars in Russia. GM is already expanding its plant in St. Petersburg. Volkswagen also announced another billion plus dollars into building its manufacturing and market share in Russia.

Sir. Nick Scheele was, until 2005, the president of Ford, after a long career in the European auto industry. He's now retired, and talking to us from Birmingham, England. He says Ford was the first foreign car manufacturer to build cars in Russia, which happened at the start of the 2000s, followed by GM and others.

Russia is the place to be right now, he says. "Of all the European markets, it is the fastest growing. It will shortly be the largest European market. Last year, Russian car sales were roughly some 2.5 million. Forecasts in the next year are about 3 million and to overtake Germany in the next two years."

Interestingly, in Russia, when gas prices go up, so do car sales.

Hear more details in the audio above.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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