MUNICH -- August new-car sales in Russia provided a hint of optimism.
The year-on-year drop of 54 percent to 110,934 units was the smallest decline in four months, according to data from the Association of European Businesses.
"We see some signs of stabilization in the market," Martin Jahn, vice chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in a statement.
The AEB expects 1.4 million cars will be sold in Russia in 2009, down from 3.2 million last year. The latest sales data follows other recent indicators that suggest the worst of the slowdown has passed.
Among the top 10 sellers so far this year, seven are locally produced, the AEB said. In that group are the Ford Focus and the Renault Logan.
The Focus, which Ford makes in St. Petersburg, was the top-selling foreign car in Russia and fifth overall with sales of 36,025 units through eight months. (see chart, right)
The Logan, which is made at Renault's plant in Moscow, ranked No. 6 in sales after eight months with 35,022 units sold. The Lada Priora was No. 1 with 67,926 sales through August.
After eight months, Russia sales are down 51 percent to 989,996 units.
Despite the deep recession China's Geely, France's Citroen and General Motors high-end SUV maker Hummer have seen double-digit sales increases after eight months. Hummer's sales have doubled in the period to 925 units.