GM Shutters Russian Production As Ruble Continues To Falter

Jan 30, 2015 11:11 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

General Motors will halt production at its plant in Russia from mid-March to mid-May while hiking prices due to the struggling Russian ruble.

The announcement that GM will suspend production at the St. Petersburg assembly facility follows reports last month that Russians were buying up cars to put the rapidly declining ruble into something concrete.

GM's Russian division temporarily suspended wholesaling vehicles to dealers, while Audi and Jaguar Land Rover made similar announcements.

The Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported that GM's prices in Russia have risen 20 percent on average in the last two months; however, a GM spokesman could not confirm that figure to Reuters.

While the St. Petersburg plant is the only facility completely owned by GM in Russia, the American automaker also runs a joint-venture plant in the country with AvtoVAZ OAO.

Falling crude oil prices and economic sanctions have been behind the ruble's rapid drop in value, Bloomberg reported in December. During a 24-hour period in mid-December, the ruble fell a whopping 19 percent in value, the worst day on record for the ruble in 16 years.

On Thursday, Ford pointed to Russia's faltering economy as a factor in the automaker's lowered forecast for 2015 European sales, according to Reuters. Volkswagen additionally said Thursday that the ruble's decline had resulted in company losses of hundreds of millions of euros.

The Association of European Business said that auto sales in Russia dropped 10.3 percent in 2014 and would likely fall 24 percent this year. Several carmakers have said that even the 24-percent drop is too optimistic, Reuters reported.

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