MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Russian car sales plunged more than forecast in September, slumping the most in three months as a weaker ruble pushed automakers to raise prices.
Sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles contracted 29 percent to 140,867 from a year earlier after a 19 percent drop in August, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Russia said in a statement on Thursday. That was worse than the median of four estimates in a Bloomberg survey for a 21 percent decline.
Through September, sales plunged by 33 percent to 1.19 million. The drop reflects the collapse in consumer demand that’s threatening to extend Russia’s recession into a second year.
As companies adjust to the ruble’s depreciation and runaway inflation, 22 carmakers raised prices in Russia last month, including Renault and Kia, according to analytical agency Autostat.
“September did not do much to improve the year-to-date performance of the market, or the outlook on the remaining three months of the year,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB automobile manufacturers committee, said in the statement.
The industry group kept its forecast for a 37 percent decline in car sales in 2015.
Sales at Lada's, Russia's top-selling brand, fell 41 percent in September. Other declines included an 11 percent drop at Kia, 33 percent at Renault, 45 percent at Toyota and an 8 percent fall at Ford.
- Download PDF, above right, for Russia sales by brand and automaker.
The Russian economy is contracting for the first time since 2009 after a decline in oil prices and sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union over the conflict in Ukraine. The ruble weakened 36 percent against the dollar in the past 12 months, the second-worst performer among 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
While annual consumer-price growth eased to 15.7 percent in September, it remains almost fourfold the central bank’s mid- term target of 4 percent.