Russian car sales fall less, future growth elusive -lobby

Reuters

* Russian car sales down 5 pct in September after 10 pctAugust drop

* Industry group says auto sector still suffering

MOSCOW, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The outlook for the Russian carmarket remains difficult even if the pace of falling salesslowed sharply last month, a trade group said on Tuesday.

Car sales have dropped due to weakness in the $2 trillioneconomy. The Association of European Businesses (AEB), a lobbyof Europe's top auto makers, has cut its 2013 sales forecast to2.8 million vehicles, a 5 percent fall.

The AEB said car sales in September fell five percentyear-on-year, after a fall of 10 percent in the previous month.

It said 246,895 units were sold in September.

"The average temperature in the hospital is improving, butthe patient as a whole is still far from being well," said JoergSchreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile ManufacturersCommittee.

"Such could be the 'diagnosis' for the total marketsituation in September - on a monthly basis (the) sales trendshows signs of improvement," Schreiber said in a statement.

Sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles fell 7percent in January-September from the same period last year.

Schreiber said the market still lacked sufficient strengthto achieve a stable level, a condition for moderate growth inthe future.

Russia's largest carmaker AvtoVAZ, whichFranco-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan plansto take control of by mid-2014, last week reported first halfresults showing it swung to a net loss.

Western car makers such as General Motors, Ford and Fiat have invested heavily in Russia.

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