Car sales in Vietnam last month dropped one third month on month to 5,180 units, the lowest monthly volume so far this year, while sales in the first three quarters nonetheless nearly doubled year on year.

Sales by 16 carmakers fell 33.7% to 5,180 units in September from 7,809 units in August, Reuters reported, citing Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association data.

According to the wire service, the association gave no reasons for the fall but noted that local dealers had said demand would slow for the rest of the year after the government tripled registration fees to 15% of a car's purchase price from 14 August.

Vietnam's government has repeatedly altered auto industry policy in recent years, such moves included adding and then reducing high taxes on imported components used in locally-assembled cars in an effort to spur the country's parts-making industry.

Sales in the first nine months of 2008 soared 83% year on year to 90,057 units as Toyota remained top of the 12 local manufacturers, after selling 18,656 cars in the January-September period, up 20.7% year on year.

Its sales growth slowed, however, from an annual rise of 27.6% between the first nine months of 2006 and 2007, Reuters noted.

Government data showed car imports in the first nine months of this year nearly tripled from a year ago to 45,900 units, the report added.

Automakers with Vietnamese assembly plants include Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, Mitsubishi Co/Proton, Suzuki, and Nissho Iwai, part of Sojitz Holdings, Reuters said.

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