Russia has madly, passionately (and not a little blindly) fallen in love. And, as with any love affair worth its salt, this one will have its fair share of consequences when the honeymoon ends.
The object of Russia’s affection? The good, old-fashioned automobile.
It started fast and has only gotten faster. In 2005, Russia’s auto industry grew 14%; in 2006, 36%; and, in 2007, a whopping 67% - an exponential growth that attracted foreign investors, particularly after 2009, when the country welcomed companies like GM & Ford with open arms. Today, the ninth largest economy in the world is the seventh-largest car market, positioned to surpass Germany as the largest in Europe by 2014.
Nowhere is this love affair more evident, more woven into the city itself, than in Moscow. The city has a reputation (perhaps rivaled only by Beijing’s) for traffic, pollution, and downright hostility to pedestrians. And, ironically, because of its epic congestion, the city continues to expand its highways and parking spaces.
We’ve heard that story before, and we know how it ends - for that matter, so does Moscow. But passion, by nature, is blind - and stopping a love affair in its tracks is far from easy.