New vehicle sales in Vietnam jumped by close to 75% to 7,363 units in January, from 4,217 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association.

The sharp improvement reflects more than anything weak year-earlier volume when sales were held back by the introduction of higher vehicle registration taxes and excise duties at the start of 2012. This encouraged many buyers to bring purchases forward into 2011 to avoid paying higher prices.

January’s market performance was more or less in line with last year’s monthly sales average. While central bank interest rates have come down significantly over the last 12 months, in line with falling inflation, the average vehicle buyer still struggles to obtain credit from banks.

Sales of passenger cars, MPVs and SUVs jumped by 85% to 4,845 units in January, from 2,618 a year earlier; while commercial vehicle sales rose by 56% to 2385 units, from 1,528. This does not include sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, which amounted to 133 units in January and which are reported independently by the German automaker.

Toyota led the market last month with 2,718 sales, an increase of 76% year-on-year; followed by Truong Hai, which assembles Kia cars and various commercial vehicles, with a 109% increase to 1,834 units. Ford leapt into third place after sales almost quadrupled to 690 units.