The Russian car market could fall by 60% this year, according to a Russia government minister's reported remarks.

"We thought in December that the car market might shrink 40 percent (during 2009) but an analysis of sales in the first quarter indicates that the drop could be 60 percent compared with last year," Interfax quoted Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Andrei Dementyev as saying.

That would translate into sales of fewer than 1.3m, Interfax noted.

Since the start of the year several car factories in Russia have temporarily suspended production over rising prices for auto parts and other supplies and declining sales amid the financial crisis.