MOSCOW (AFP) -- Cars sales in Russia plummeted by a historic 72.4 percent in April, manufacturers said Wednesday, after the industry was hit by the sweeping restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
Year-on-year sales in April totalled just 38,922 units across the country, according to the Association of European Businesses which represents foreign investors in Russia.
This is "the biggest drop of monthly sales in the history of AEB statistics" since records began in 2008 said Thomas Staertzel, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee.
He said that following exceptionally high figures in March, car dealers in April were forced to stop or limit their operations as a result of the "lockdown situation," a work halt imposed by the government to try to curb the outbreak.
Economic uncertainty caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic pushed some Russians in March to buy cars fearing price hikes.
"Black April" had strongly challenged dealer liquidity and sustainability over the medium-term, Staertzel said in a statement.
The Kremlin on Tuesday began easing the "non-working" period introduced in late March during which non-essential businesses were closed, including car manufacturers and dealers.
Staertzel said he did not expect the gradual easing of Russia's anti-virus measures to dramatically improve the figures.
"Dealers are preparing for restart, although I do not expect much better sales results in May," he said. (AFP)