BMW Sales In Russia Down 1.8%

BMW, the world's biggest maker of luxury cars, delivered 1.8 percent fewer vehicles in Russia last month as economic growth slowed and the company raised prices.

The carmaker sold 901 BMW-brand cars and sport utility vehicles and 36 Mini cars in Russia in January, Christian Kremer, head of BMW Group Russia, said Thursday. That compares with 931 BMWs and 24 Minis sold a year earlier, according to figures provided by the Association of European Businesses, of which BMW is a member.

"Even if the Russian market deteriorated by a higher percentage, we are committed to the Russian market," Ian Robertson, BMW's worldwide sales chief, said at a briefing, adding that growth will resume "in the long run."

New car sales in Russia will probably fall at least 19 percent this year as the economy stumbles, undermining incomes, and ruble depreciation increases the price of imports, the association has estimated. The government predicts that gross domestic product will contract this year for the first time in a decade.

BMW sold a record 19,236 cars and SUVs in the country last year, a gain of 31 percent, and the company is still targeting 20,000 deliveries this year, Robertson said. He declined to specify BMW's worldwide sales in January, saying there was "no pattern" to market performance.