Carmakers Lower Russian 2015 Sales Forecast as Slump Persists

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Russian and international automakers lowered their forecast for car sales this year after the ruble collapsed and the economy headed into recession.

Russian sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles will probably fall 36 percent to 1.55 million this year, the Association of European Businesses’ automobile manufacturers committee said Wednesday in a website statement. In January, the group estimated a drop at 24 percent to 1.89 million.

June sales dropped to 140,161 vehicles, down 30 percent from a year ago, according to the group’s statistics. That’s less than the median estimate for a 37 percent slump in a Bloomberg survey, and the smallest drop since January.

“No reason to relax whatsoever,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB car committee, said in the statement. “Market sentiment for the remaining six months of the year remains muted.”

Russia’s car market collapsed as the ruble plummeted and the Bank of Russia raised interest rates to an emergency 17 percent last year to stem capital outflows. Credit markets have begun to revive after the central bank lowered the cost of borrowing 5.5 percentage points in four steps this year.

The rate cuts and government support measures, including subsidized car loans and a rebate program, have eased the crunch, Schreiber said.

OAO AvtoVAZ, Russia’s biggest automaker, regained market share last month, selling 26,416 Lada cars, the highest volume since March. While a 12 percent decline from the same month last year, it marks a 16 percent improvement from May.

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