Officials in Russia have begun swapping their BMWs and Mercedes for Ladas and other Russian cars after Vladimir Putin said they should support domestic manufacturing.
Within hours of Mr Putin’s edict, Vladislav Davankov, deputy chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament, posted a video of himself driving an electric Moskvich-3e.
“It drives quite well, it seems to me,” he said. “It’s a bit noisy but overall it’s okay.”
Mr. Davankov looked cheerful enough in the black hatchback as he trundled through the Moscow traffic wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses, but he is used to a faster commute to the office.
Russian parliamentary documents showed that the 39-year-old owns a Mercedes S-450 which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.
By comparison, the Moskvich-3e is described as an “urban crossover” with a top speed of 87 mph.
On Thursday, Mr Putin told a meeting of Russian industrialists that Russian officials should embrace a “more modest” look and buy domestic car brands.
Last year, the Kremlin brought the Moskvich brand back after a 20-year gap as it tried to ramp up Russian car production to beat Western sanctions imposed after its invasion of Ukraine, but the rejuvenation of the Soviet marque received less-than-gushing reviews from industry experts, who pointed out that its cars were almost identical to Chinese designs.
Lada, Russia’s biggest car manufacturer, has also been struggling under Western sanctions and was forced to launch last year’s model without a satellite navigation system, airbags, or an anti-locking brake system.
In June, Maxim Sokolov, head of Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ, said that labour shortages caused by the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine were forcing him to employ gangs of prisoners. The iconic and unreliable Lada family car is being produced by amid a shortage of workers caused by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Still, Mr. Davankov is not the only Russian official to laud Russian cars.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said this week that he commutes to work in a Russian Aurus saloon and drives a Moskvich-3 at the weekend, which he praised as “roomy, economical, and reliable”.
And he ordered other MPs to follow his example.
“Parliamentary deputies will use Moskvich, Lada, and Aurus cars,” he said.