Sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia soared by 48% in July, although the effects of the recent fires have yet to be factored in.

Russia has endured major infernos recently near large population centres including Moscow as record temperatures have sent the mercury past 40 degrees Celsius, provoking huge forest and peat fires according to the Association of European Businesses Automobile Manufacturers Committee (AEB AMC).

Despite those challenges, growth for last month amounted to 48% or 55,907 units, compared with the same period in 2009. Among the top ten best-selling models of passenger cars, nine are produced in Russia.

And the first seven months of 2010 saw sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia increase by 9% compared with the same period in 2009, or by 79,211 more sold units.

"Another month of strong growth clearly shows the continuing recovery in the automotive industry with a 48% increase compared to last July," said AEB AEC chairman David Thomas.

"Later this month the industry will further demonstrate its confidence in Russia with the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2010, which will showcase global, European and Russian premières supported by the attendance of many key industry leaders."

However, the extreme temperatures and fires, which forced Volkswagen to temporarily close its Kaluga plant are expected to see a slowdown in August and September figures.

"Despite the traditional holiday period and the shortage of cars, sales in July were almost at the level of June," said AEB AMC vice chairman Martin Jahn.

"Nevertheless, in August and September, there may be some slowdown due to holidays in the majority of Russian factories as well as emergency weather conditions in several regions of central Russia."