(Adds background, details on new forecast)
MOSCOW, July 8 Russian car sales plunged 17.3
percent year-on-year in June, according to a lobby group for
Europe's top carmakers, accelerating their recent slide and
leading the group to slash its forecast for sales in the country
The Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Tuesday
it now expected sales of cars and light commercial vehicles in
Russia to drop 12 percent this year to 2.45 million units - far
more pessimistic than its forecast earlier this year for a 1.6
Auto sales have tumbled in Russia as a weakening economy has
been further hit by Western sanctions over Ukraine, and as
people delay making large purchases.
A decline this year would follow a 5.5 percent fall in car
sales in 2013, which brought three years of double-digit
percentage growth to an abrupt end.
"The market continues its downward trend, at an accelerating
pace," said Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile
Manufacturers Committee (AMC). "In the opinion of AMC member
companies, the market weakness has not reached its bottom yet."
Western automakers such as General Motors, Ford
and Renault have invested heavily in Russia on the
expectation it would soon become Europe's biggest car market.
(Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Mark Potter)