* Ssangyong ships no vehicle to Russia in Jan, Feb - data
* Says no plan to resume exports until rouble stabilises
* Says to boost exports to Western Europe, China to offset
(Add spokesman comment, context)
SEOUL, March 19 South Korea's Ssangyong Motor
said it has suspended vehicle shipments to major
export market Russia since January, the latest global automaker
to see demand hit by the plunging rouble and a prolonged
South Korea's fourth-largest automaker, owned by Indian
automaker Mahindra and Mahindra, has no plans to
resume shipments to Russia until the rouble stabilises, and will
boost sales to Europe and China instead, a spokesman added.
Russia's once-promising car market has seen demand dwindle
as the economy weakens, battered by Western sanctions over the
Ukraine crisis and sliding oil prices.
The tumbling value of the rouble has also raised prices of
imported vehicles, further curbing global automakers' sales.
On Wednesday, General Motors said it would shut a
Russian factory and wind down its Opel brand in the country,
while Nissan Motor also said earlier this week that it
was suspending Russia production for 16 days this month.
Ssangyong Motor is taking a bigger hit than other foreign
brands in Russia because it does not have a local production
base: all its vehicles are made in Pyeongtaek city, South Korea.
The company shipped no vehicles to Russia in January and
February after exports slumped 41 percent to 21,258 last year
from a record high of 35,753 in 2013, according to data from
Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Ssangyong Motor, which survived near-bankruptcy in 2009, saw
its operating loss widen last year to 76.9 billion won ($69.12
million) from 8.9 billion won in 2013, hit by losses in Russia
and higher wage costs.
Its January-February overseas sales plunged by 47 percent
from a year earlier, while its domestic sales grew 22 percent
thanks to sales of it smaller Tivoli SUV.
Other South Korean automakers including Hyundai Motor
sister company Kia Motors, as well as
GM's South Korean unit, have also cut exports to Russia this
year, according to the auto association.
($1 = 1,112.5000 won)
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Miral Fahmy)