DETROIT -- The weak and volatile Russian ruble has forced General Motors to suspend production at its St. Petersburg, Russia, assembly plant from mid-March until mid-May, and the automaker will raise prices in the country.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. last week cited the weak ruble and struggling economy as major reasons the company lowered expectations for its European business in 2015.
A GM Europe spokesman confirmed the plant shutdown, which was first reported by the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.
GM has raised prices for its vehicles sold in Russia because of the devalued currency, the spokesman said, but he could not confirm Kommersant's report that prices for GM products have risen an average of 20 percent in the past two months. Last year, GM's Russian sales fell 26 percent to about 258,000 vehicles, according to the Association of European Business.
Industrywide, the AEB said that auto sales in Russia fell 10 percent to 2.49 million vehicles last year and that it expected 2015 sales to fall to 1.89 million, a forecast that several automakers said was too optimistic.
GM builds the Opel Astra and Chevrolet Cruze in St. Petersburg. It also operates a joint-venture plant in Russia with AvtoVAZ.
Ford had previously estimated European losses at about $250 million in 2015. Ford said last week the loss would narrow from $1 billion in 2014 but would be wider than previously thought.
"We expect to see a big headwind from Russia in 2015," CFO Bob Shanks said of a market that was once projected to become the largest in Europe, with more than 4 million in annual vehicle sales.