Domestic car sales by car manufacturers in Vietnam rose 35% year on year to 18,646 units in the January to July period, the country's Automobile Manufacturers Association, or VAMA, said on Thursday, according to Dow Jones, which noted that, in July, car sales were up 55.5% year on year.

Monthly car sales continue to rise in Vietnam, Dow Jones said, noting that sales rose 22.4% year on year in June and were up 31.8% year on year for the January-June period.

Dow Jones said the country has four major joint ventures, which were formed between local and foreign firms. They are VMC, Vina Star, Vidamco and Mekong.

For the January to July period, Toyota was the highest-selling single brand with 5,260 vehicles followed by Vidamco's Daewoo (2,628), Ford (2,217), Mercedes-Benz (1,499) and Suzuki (1,453).

Vina Star's Mitsubish and Proton brands made 1,977 sales and VMC's BMW, Mazda and Kia 1,558.

In May, Reuters reported that foreign car makers had claimed a proposed hike in consumption tax by Vietnam could raise the price of a standard car by as much as 50% next year and cripple the country's young industry.

Car sales could drop by as much as 90% by 2005 if the government ratifies the tax, VAMA told Reuters at the time. The group expected to sell 33,000 units this year, up 22% from 2002 if the tax was unchanged.

The proposal sought to gradually increase special consumption tax rates for locally assembled cars to a ceiling of 70% by 2005, up from a current range of between 1.5 and 5% depending on the vehicle type, Reuters said last May.