Economy, Auto

Russia Car Sales Decline

Russia Car Sales DeclineRussia Car Sales Decline

New-car sales in Russia fell 39% in October, increasing the pace of decline during the country’s economic slump.

Sales dropped to 129,958 last month after a 29% drop in September, the Association of European Businesses in Russia said on Tuesday, Reuters writes.

“The pace of the market decline picked up speed in October following a brief softening in August-September,” said Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee. The suspension of the government scrappage and trade-in program is affecting retail demand “in an unfavorable manner”, he said in a statement.

There was no evidence of the Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating scandal having any immediate impact on its sales in Russia. Sales at VW Group, which includes the VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands, were down 31% last month but the group’s market share rose to 10.9% compared with a 9.7% share in October 2014. Market leader Lada’s volume dropped by 46%. Sales at Renault were down 35%, while Toyota registrations fell 48 % and Nissan slipped 49%.

Ford’s volume was down 25%, slower than the market decline, boosting the automaker’s market share. General Motors’ sales fell by 70% as the company pulls its Opel and mainstream Chevrolet models from the market. In the first 10 months, 1.32 million cars were sold, down 34%.

Falling car sales are forcing carmakers to adjust their production plans for Russia.

Ford Sollers will hold production for two months at its plant in Vsevolozhsk and will start voluntary layoffs, Vedemosti newspaper reported on Oct. 30. Nissan’s Russian unit plans to cut its workforce by 500 employees at its St. Petersburg plant in 2016, while AvtoVAZ, which builds Lada models, said it may halt production for a month in December.

  Prolonged Slump Forecast

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates the Russian car market may decline 45% in terms of vehicles sold this year and it may take six to seven years to rebound to sales levels of 2012.

The economy of the world’s largest energy exporter contracted 3.8% from a year earlier in the first nine months this year, hit by a decline in commodity prices and sanctions by the US and the European Union.

The central bank forecasts the economy will not return to annual growth until 2017, which threatens to be Russia’s longest recession in two decades. While inflation decelerated for a second month in October to 15.6%, it remains almost four times the central bank’s target of 4%, hampering efforts to revive the economy with further interest rate cuts.