April 18, 2013 / 1:41 PM / in 5 years

Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ says will lower sales forecast

MOSCOW, April 18 (Reuters) - Russia’s largest car maker AvtoVAZ will cut its 2013 sales and production forecasts due to the weak state of the market, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“We saw a certain decline in sales in March,” Igor Komarov told reporters on the sidelines of a business forum. “We expect that in April the (growth) result will be also negative compared to April of 2012.”

Komarov said the company, which Franco-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan plans to take control of by mid-2014, would come up with a revised forecast in May. It had previously forecast yearly sales of 550,000 cars in the domestic market.

Sales of new cars in Russia fell 2 percent year-on-year in March, according to the Association of European Businesses, which expects total full-year sales to be broadly flat on the 2012 figure of 2.94 million.

Komarov said he expected AvtoVAZ’s sales to decline in 2013 as a whole. In the first quarter, sales were down 1.8 percent year-on-year to 107,427 vehicles.

Western car makers such as General Motors, Ford , Renault and Fiat have invested heavily in Russia in the hope of increased sales to the country’s growing middle class.

But a slowing economy and concerns about economic troubles in Europe have caused would-be buyers to pull back.

The Russian car market is still expected to overtake Germany, currently Europe’s biggest by number of cars sold, some time this decade.

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