MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian new-car sales plunged 38 percent in February, after a 24 percent decline the previous month, the Association of European Businesses said.
Car sales are falling fast as Russia's fragile economy and weakening currency are hit by Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine and buyers delay making large purchases.
The AEB said 128,298 new cars and light commercial vehicles were sold in Russia last month, compared with 206,526 in February 2014. Through February, sales were down 32 percent to 243,826.
"The market is entering a very difficult phase now, and February is only the beginning. Industry sentiment in the next few months will be extremely difficult, and the market bottom has yet to be found," Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in a statement.
The AEB has forecast that sales will decline 24 percent this year, while accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers expects a decrease ranging from 25 percent to 35 percent.
Schreiber said a recent stabilization in the ruble raised hopes for an improvement in the longer term. He did not give any comments on the AEB's outlook, which some automakers have called optimistic.