Europe: Russia new car sales drop slows in February image

According to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses (AEB), new car sales in Russia – a market once poised to overtake Germany as Europe’s biggest – fell just 2% in February.

The AEB said the total tally for last month was of 206,476 cars and light commercial vehicles, with demand slowly picking up after the 6% drop registered in January, as the weaker local currency – the ruble – encouraged consumers to buy new cars.

“Retail activity was better than normal for the season, boosted by consumer concerns about weakening ruble and resulting price increases on imported vehicles,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB, said in a statement.

Russia ended three years of big growth last year with an overall 6% slump to 2.78 million vehicles. The AEB contends that in March the growth would continue, but is weary about making an optimistic forecast for the rest of the year, keeping its projected 2% contraction for the whole of 2014.

With a weak economic backdrop and as analysts and forecasters fear that Russia could get into another recession, automakers are worried about the sales contraction, but executives hope the rising middle class would sustain a long-term growth.

Via Automotive News Europe