Weak Russian economy hits Volkswagen and Opel sales -magazine

FRANKFURT, June 15 Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:11am EDT

FRANKFURT, June 15 (Reuters) - Russia's slackening growth and weakening rouble are having a knock-on effect for Volkswagen and Opel vehicle sales there, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.

Volkswagen's vehicle sales in Russia are down 10 percent and Opel's have fallen by 12 percent in the first five months of the year, Der Spiegel said, adding the declines were not the result of sanctions linked to the crisis in Ukraine.

Opel had even halted production at its factory in Saint Petersburg for several weeks, said Der Spiegel, without citing sources for its report.

"The Russian market is difficult for the time being, however we remain convinced about its long-term potential," an Opel spokesman said on Sunday. Volkswagen was not immediately available for comment.

Economists have trimmed their expectations for growth in Russia and see GDP expanding by just 0.5 percent this year, a Reuters poll showed in late May. The rouble is seen weakening to 36.2 to the dollar by the end of the year. (Reporting by Jonathan Gould and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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