MOSCOW (Reuters) - Sales of new cars in Russia plummeted by 72.4% in April compared with a year earlier, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Tuesday, as the coronavirus outbreak slowed production and halted some dealer operations.
Just 38,922 new cars and light commercial vehicles were sold in Russia in April, which saw the biggest monthly sales fall ever recorded by AEB after a 4% rise the previous month.
The most popular were Lada cars, made by Avtovaz, which accounted for around a quarter of April sales with 9,396 units.
April was part of a non-working period in Russia, ordered by President Vladimir Putin to stop the spread of the coronavirus, bringing the economy to a halt as factories and businesses were forced to suspend operations and citizens asked to self-isolate.
“‘Black April’ 2020 strongly challenged dealer liquidity and mid-term even their sustainability,” said Thomas Staertzel, AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee chairman.
“Dealers are preparing for a restart, although I do not expect much better sales results in May.”
People rushed to buy cars in March, with sales jumping 22.7% as they expected prices to rise after a fall in the rouble due to lower oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak, analytical agency Autostat said last month.
Russia has reported 232,243 coronavirus cases and 2,116 deaths.
Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Grabar; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood
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