(Adds details on individual car sales, background)
MOSCOW, April 8 Russian car sales were flat in
March from a year earlier, a lobby group for the industry said
on Tuesday, showing some sign of stabilisation after two months
Car sales have been falling as Russia's economy falters and
people delay making large purchases, and they are expected to
remain weak this year.
The flat sales reading from the Association of European
Businesses (AEB) follows a fall of 2 percent in February and 6
percent in January. Auto sales were down 5.5 percent for 2013 as
The AEB said last month that February's smaller decline was
a sign that a sliding rouble was encouraging consumers to put
orders in. The rouble has fallen 8 percent so far this year.
"Prevailing thinking among market participants is that the
recent spike in market demand was driven by one-time effects
which will have a reverse impact on customer activity in the
second quarter," said AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee
Chairman Joerg Schreiber in a statement.
"The order banks generated during that spike however should
contribute to a further improving (year-on-year) performance of
the retail industry in the coming 1-2 months".
The AEB said 243,335 cars and light commercial vehicles were
sold during March.
Brands which saw sharp falls included Avtovaz's
Lada, down 15 percent so far this year, and Ford, down 27
percent, although Nissan Motor Co showed a 27 percent
Ford Sollers, a joint venture between U.S. automaker Ford
Motor Co and Russian carmaker Sollers, last week said
it was cutting 700 staff in its plant near St Petersburg due to
Russia's deteriorating economy and a weaker rouble.
However, Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan alliance,
said on Friday he remained bullish on Russia due to long-term
factors such as a rising middle class, and shrugged off any
impact of Moscow's standoff with the West over Ukraine.
Ghosn, who heads both Nissan and Renault as chief
executive, was in Moscow to unveil the resurrected Datsun model
for the Russian market.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Megan Davies; Additional
reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by
Jason Bush and Mark Potter)