MOSCOW -- Despite losing market share, General Motors Uzbekistan has reported a huge increase in its sales of cars in Russia in the first half of 2011, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.
Viktoria Zavyalova, communications director of the European Business Association in Russia, told RFE/RL that 45,127 cars made by GM Uzbekistan were sold in Russia in the first six months of the year -- a more than 40 percent increase over the same period in 2010.
Zavyalova said that GM Uzbekistan was in 10th place in terms of the volume of car sales on the Russian market.
The increase comes as overall sales in the Russian car market from January to June have increased 56 percent compared to last year, meaning that other car companies have had even larger increases in their sales in Russia than GM Uzbekistan this year.
Zavyalova told RFE/RL on July 14 that the reason for the increase in car sales was the stabilization of the Russian market after the world economic crisis of the previous two years.
GM Uzbekistan currently builds several Chevrolet and GM Daewoo vehicles, including the Nexia, Captiva, Epica, Lacetti, Matiz, and Damas models at a plant in Asaka, a town in the eastern Uzbek province of Andijon.
An Uzbek taxi driver in Moscow named Asrorbek, who did not want to give his surname, told RFE/RL that he connects the sales growth with the increasing number of Uzbek migrant workers in Russia.
He said most of the thousands of Uzbek taxi drivers in Russia drove Nexias made in Uzbekistan and added that he was told the Nexia is the cheapest foreign car in Russia with affordable maintenance and easily available spare parts.
Russia is the largest market for GM Uzbekistan cars, which are also exported to Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Georgia.
Russian carmakers were alleged in 2009 to have attempted to get restrictions put on the sale of GM cars from Uzbekistan. The restrictions included an import tax.
The Russian companies claimed the restrictions were in response to similar barriers imposed by Uzbek officials on Russian-made cars. The Uzbek-made Nexia and Matiz have in recent years been among the best-selling models in Russia.
UzDaewooAuto was formed on a joint basis by the Uzbek government and Korea's Daewoo. The car plant was first commissioned in 1996 and by 2007 the state Uzavtosanoat joint-stock company and General Motors signed an agreement to establish GM Uzbekistan.
Read more in Uzbek here