[MOSCOW] Russian car sales are set to plunge 24 per cent this year amid high interest rates and a weak ruble, extending last year's 10 per cent decline.
New car and light commercial vehicle sales are forecast to drop to 1.89 million vehicles from 2.49 million last year, Joerg Schreiber, the chairman of the Association of European Businesses' Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said today at a news conference in Moscow.
Last year's drop eased in November and December as consumers rushed to buy big-ticket items as the ruble collapsed, Schreiber said. December sales rose 2.4 per cent to 270,600 vehicles, according to the industry group's data.
The ruble plunged more than 40 per cent last year in Russia's worst currency crisis since 1998. Carmakers have slowed production and raised prices in response.
High interest rates will probably hold down car sales this year, and the ruble exchange rate remains a headache for automakers, he said.