Foreign Car Sales Slowed In October

Sales of foreign-brand cars in Russia rose 9 percent in October, the slowest pace this year, as banks tighten lending and job cuts raise concerns that incomes may decline.

Sales, which include global brands made in Russia, rose to 169,115 vehicles from 154,622 a year earlier, led by General Motors and Toyota Motor, according to data released Tuesday by the Association of European Businesses' Automobile Manufacturers Committee. Ten-month sales rose 36 percent, while October sales slid compared with September.

The middle-class models may lose ground to lower-priced brands as bank lending dries up and consumers worry about their incomes. Chevrolet's Lacetti surpassed Ford's Focus as the country's best-selling foreign model in October.

"Russia won't leapfrog Germany to become Europe's biggest market this year," said Ilya Makarov, a transportation analyst with UBS. "If every other car was sold in Russia through a borrowing plan earlier this year, only about every fourth is now."

Ford sold 18 percent fewer cars in October than a year earlier, while Hyundai Motor's sales fell 27 percent and Nissan Motor's sales slid 20 percent, the data showed. GM, which unveiled its $300 million plant in St. Petersburg last week, increased sales 22 percent in October, while Toyota boosted sales 51 percent.

Russia's new-car market, including both global and domestic brands, may reach 2.8 billion vehicles this year, compared with almost 3.2 million in Germany, Makarov said.