UPDATE 2-PwC sees Russian vehicle sales down 25-35 pct in 2015

Mon Feb 9, 2015 7:57am EST
 
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* Car sales fall as crisis, sanctions hit Russia

* Imported cars expected to suffer biggest falls (Adds AEB data, comments)

By Gleb Stolyarov

MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Russian car sales could fall by 25-35 percent this year and sales of imported cars may slump by 55 percent, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said on Monday, underlining the impact of an economic crisis and a rouble devaluation.

After the boom years for foreign car sales following the car market in Russia has shrunk as the economy weakened under the weight of lower oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Consumers have mostly put off large purchases, although in December hundreds of Russians rushed to buy cars and other durable goods to spend their rapidly devaluing roubles before prices rose. The rouble fell more than 40 percent last year.

The Association of European Businesses, a lobby group, said sales of cars and light commercial vehicles fell 24.4 percent in January, year-on-year, after rising 2.4 percent in December.

"If December was a big party for many market participants, then January is the equivalent to a bad hangover," said Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, saying that 2014 model year stocks were mostly sold.

"At the same time, responding to currency movements, prices for the new model year have increased, much more than usual. The price transformation of the market is something still in process, so the headache will rather get worse before going away eventually," he said in a statement.   Continued...