Russian car sales fall 8% in April on weak ruble

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Russian car sales fell 8 percent in April as the weak ruble hit consumer demand, according to the Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group.

"After a brief spell of recovery, the market is falling back into negative territory," the association's  manufacturers committee chairman, Joerg Schreiber, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Schreiber said recent price increases forced by a weaker ruble have lowered consumer demand which had been fragile to begin with. He said demand is unlikely to pick up soon because of Russia's sluggish economy.

The AEB said 226,526 cars and light commercial vehicles were sold during April. Sales at Russia's No. 1 brand, Lada, fell 16 percent last month. Sales at second-ranked Kia were down 3 percent. Volume at third-placed Renault fell 9 percent.

Four-month industry sales declined by 4 percent to 829,046. Russia's car market was down 6 percent last year.

Car sales have been falling as Russia's already weak economy is further hit by Western sanctions over Ukraine and people delay making large purchases.

Ford Sollers, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Russian carmaker Sollers, said last month it would cut production and 950 jobs at two of its three factories in Russia due to the country's deteriorating economy and a weaker ruble.

In April, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he remained bullish on the Russian market due to long-term factors such as a rising middle class.

The ruble's 6 percent decline this year helps domestic producers which have localized production but hinders those which import.

Reuters contributed to this report

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