New car and light commercial vehicle sales in Russia are expected to drop 24 percent this year to 1.89 million vehicles, according to Joerg Schreiber, the chairman of the Association of European Businesses automobile manufacturers committee. Carmakers sold 2.49 million vehicles in Russia in 2014.
Schreiber remarked the decline last year eased in the last two months as consumers went out to purchase more expensive goods even while the local currency continued to drop. In fact, vehicles sales last year surged 2 percent to 270,600 vehicles, according to the industry group's data.
While AEB’s forecast represents a significant drop in auto sales, Nissan’s head in Russia Philippe Saillard said the figure was "slightly higher" than the level he expected. Likewise, Suzuki Motor said AEB’s forecast was "very optimistic, with its director for the country Koichi Takakura placing the figure at between 1.5 and 1.7 million units.
The Russian ruble depreciated against the dollar by over 40 percent last year. In response, carmakers have suspended or halted output to cut costs while hiking auto prices. Schreiber remarked that the auto industry will continue to suffer from the falling economy this year, with high interest rates discouraging buyers to buy their own.
He added that the situation may force some carmakers to drop some car models of the market. In 2014, Nissan and Toyota managed to eke out a surge in sales at 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
No. 1 and 2 Lada and Kia saw their sales drop 15 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Other carmakers that saw drops in their volume in Russia include Ford (38 percent), Chevrolet (29 percent), Opel (20 percent), Volkswagen (18 percent) and Renault (7 percent).