14 Oct 2009 15:43

Industry Ministry forecasts light vehicle sales in Russia to fall 60% in 2009

MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) - Sales of light vehicles in Russia might decline by as much as 60% in 2009, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko said in the State Duma on Wednesday.

Sales this year will total about 1.4 million units, he said. "The situation on the commercial vehicles market is just as tense, with sales expected to fall by 70%," Khristenko said.

The government decision to raise import duties on foreign cars has boosted the share of new vehicles assembled in Russia, including foreign makes, to 49% of total sales in 2009 from 37% in 2008. The share has risen to 75% in the commercial vehicle market from 59% in 2008.

After the adjustments made in August, the discount auto loan program also showed its effectiveness, he said. "As of today over 42,000 loans have been made. Before the end of the year we expect to raise that figure to 100,000 car loans," he said.

State measures to support demand account for over 40% of car sales this year at the backbone carmaking enterprises, he said.

Khristenko said his ministry expected growth to begin in the Russian car market in the second half of 2010.

"We're confident that active growth will begin in the second half of next year. We need to approach that with fresh ideas and ways to implement them," he said.

The Industry and Trade Ministry and the Economic Development Ministry Monday held the first session of a working group set up to shape Russia's post-crisis automobile industry. "The first proposals will be ready in a month," Khristenko said.