Russian Car Sales Seen Ending Double-Digit Annual Growth

Russia’s car market may stop growing in 2013, a foreign-business group said, ending a run of at least four years of increases exceeding 10 percent as the country’s economic expansion slows.

Auto sales in Russia jumped 11 percent last year to a record 2.94 million vehicles, with gains slowing to a 1 percent increase in December, the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses said today in a statement.

Demand in the country will probably “consolidate at or close to its current level,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB’s carmakers committee, said at a Moscow press conference. “The outlook for the market in 2013 holds little promise for a quick return to growth at the double-digit rates enjoyed in recent years.”

Bank Rossii, the country’s central bank, said today that data for November suggested that Russia’s economy continued to cool gradually, with industrial output and retail trade stabilizing at “low” growth levels and investment slowing. Gross domestic product in the third quarter expanded 2.9 percent from a year earlier, down from 4.9 percent in the first quarter.

The AEB estimates that Russia’s automotive market this year will total 2.95 million to 3.1 million cars and light commercial vehicles, Schreiber said. Growth last year was the slowest since 2009, when the AEB widened its tracking of car sales include Russian brands. Increases prior to 2012 amounted to 30 percent or more.

Russia’s largest carmaker, OAO AvtoVAZ (AVAZ), and partners Renault SA (RNO) and Nissan Motor Co. (7201) sold a combined 890,433 cars last year, according to the AEB. Group deliveries in the country by Volkswagen AG (VOW) amounted to 315,937, while General Motors Co. (GM)’s sales totaled 288,308 vehicles.

Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s Solaris, Ford Motor Co. (F)’s Focus and Kia Motors Corp. (000270)’s New Rio were the best-selling non-Russian models sold last year, the AEB said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Yuliya Fedorinova in Moscow at yfedorinova@bloomberg.net; Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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