Russian car sales fall 6% in January amid weak economy
MOSCOW -- Russian vehicle sales got off to a poor start in 2014, falling 6 percent to 152,662 in January, the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses (AEB) said.
The group expects full-year deliveries to decline by 2 percent against a weak economic backdrop.
The January result follows a modest 4 percent rebound in December, after nine consecutive months of falling deliveries in 2103.
Overall the Russian market fell by 6 percent last year to 2.78 million units, bringing to an end three years of double-digit growth in Russia and delaying the country's move to succeed Germany as Europe's No. 1 market.
"January sales turned out weaker than many had hoped for," said Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB said in a statement. "January is small volume though, and therefore not a serious indicator for anything."
The AEB added the pace of contraction was encouraging and it maintained its short-term expectation for the market to stabilize.
Western carmakers including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen Group, Renault and Fiat Group have invested heavily in Russia. While auto executives are worried about an extended contraction in sales, they are bullish that the country's rising middle class will support sales long-term.