US automotive giant Ford on Monday said it had halted production at its Russian plant until June 5 in response to a slump in demand, a spokeswoman for the company said.
"We have suspended production at the Vsevolozhsk factory because of the market situation and forecasts for falling sales in the automobile industry," spokeswoman Yekaterina Kulinenko told AFP.
Ford had already halted production for one month this winter from December 24 to January 21.
Employees at the plant, located near Saint Petersburg, are to be paid one-third of their normal wages during the shut-down.
When production resumes in June the plant will continue with four-day work weeks until October 5, Kulinenko said.
Ford's assembly line in Vsevolozhsk, near Russia's second city, has produced the Focus and Mondeo models for sale on the Russian market since 2002 and employs about 200,000 people.
Although the Focus is the highest selling foreign model in Russia, Ford has said it plans to cut its annual output to 1.5 million vehicles in 2009 compared with 3.0 million last year.
Foreign manufacturers rushed to set up production bases in Russia in recent years hoping to capitilize on what was formerly Europe's fastest growing automotive market.
But Russian sales have dropped dramatically in the financial crisis. The market shrank by nearly 50 percent in April compared to the same period last year.