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The Russian car market has already overcome the lowest point of decline and is now expected to start growing, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said on Monday.

New car sales were about 1.4m units in 2009, Ghosn said, adding that the market was now expected to start recovering at a faster pace.

On struggling Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ, Ghosn said he supported the carmaker’s actions aimed at restructuring the company. Renault holds a 25% plus one share stake in AvtoVAZ as well as its 94% slice of Lada assembler Avtoframos, which officially opened its expanded factory today.

AvtoVAZ president Igor Komarov told Prime-Tass he agreed that the country’s car market had passed the bottom of the slowdown and was expected to start growing. He also said that the government’s ‘cash-for-clunkers’ programme could significantly help the car market to recover.

Under the programme, expected to become operational from 8 March, owners of cars produced in 1999 or earlier can receive bonuses worth RUB50,000 to buy new Russian-made cars in exchange for recycling their old cars. The government plans to allocate RUB10bn for the programme in 2010, earlier reports said.

In a further sign of recovery, Kamaz, Russia’s largest truckmaker, on Monday said it built 2,100 units in February, up 30% year on year.

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By GlobalData