Russia’s light vehicle market continued its alarming rate of decline in January according to data released by the Moscow-based AEB.

The AEB said that sales of new passenger cars and LCVs in Russia decreased by 29.1% in January versus January last year, to stand at 81,849 units sold.

Joerg Schreiber, Chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee acknowledged the poor market start to the year. “Not the best start in to a year which all experts agree will show a negative sales trend again,” he said. However, he expects some pick up later in the year. “Most forecasts including our own, see the full year at a better trend than shown in January. January has never been a reliable indicator for the sales trend in the following months of the year. It remains to hope this is true also in 2016, for which the general expectation remains negative, however at a less pronounced pace than seen in the whole of 2015.

He also said that the government’s support for the auto sector should help, despite the ongoing adverse impacts caused by the collapse of the Russian rouble. “The recently announced extension of the government support to the automotive sector in the first half of 2016 is a positive step in this direction. On the other hand, the continuing price inflation fuelled by a very weak currency will remain a major challenge on the long way to market recovery”.

Last month the AEB forecast that Russia’s light vehicle market will decline by around 5% in 2016 to around 1.5m units. Light vehicle sales in Russia dropped a whopping 36% to 1.6m units last year, from 2.49m in 2014.

AvtoVAZ announced last week that it will move to a four-day week due to lower demand for its products.