(Adds details, quotes, context)
MOSCOW, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Russia’s sales of new cars in 2019 are expected to fall 2.2% from last year to 1.76 million units, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group said on Friday.
The AEB had originally forecast sales to rise to 1.87 million this year from 1.8 million units in 2018, but said in July that “market growth in the full year of 2019 is not a realistic scenario anymore”.
Sales of new cars in Russia fell 0.2% year-on-year in September to 157,129 units, which is “not a bad result looking at the negative track record in recent months”, the AEB said in a statement.
“The (AEB) expects a full-year sales result of 1.76 million units, reflecting the same slightly negative trend towards year-end,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, was quoted as saying in a statement.
“The uncertain element here is the possibility of another significant increase of the utilisation fee in 2020 as reportedly being discussed by the government,” Schreiber said, referring to the new 2019 sales forecast.
“Should such a decision be adopted, it would add another question mark over the long-term prospects of the Russian car market as a whole,” he said. “Short-term, however, sales of imported cars might receive an artificial boost – of course at the cost of sales in the following period.” (Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Polina Devitt; Editing by Dale Hudson and Susan Fenton)