AvtoVAZ Sales Fell 6% in 2008

AvtoVAZ, the country's biggest automaker, said domestic car sales fell 6 percent last year to 622,000 vehicles.

Exports were little changed at 106,000 cars, AvtoVAZ said in an e-mailed statement Monday.

The carmaker, which sold a 25 percent stake to Renault in February, faces slumping demand as foreign manufacturers including Toyota Motor and General Motors have moved production to Russia.

AvtoVAZ stopped its plant last year from Dec. 29 to Feb. 2 amid declining sales.

The government has pledged to spend about 220 billion rubles ($7.1 billion) in loans and state guarantees to aid the car industry.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a government meeting on Dec. 19 that government agencies will more than double spending this year to 23 billion rubles on purchasing vehicles produced by Russian companies.