Toyota Motor Vietnam Company hopes to consolidate its position atop the Vietnamese new vehicle market with the launch of its new Camry model, which started rolling out of its plant near Hanoi last week, reports Auto-Asia Online.

The joint venture's president, Mutsuhiko Ono, said the increasing demand for cars and Toyota's success with other models had convinced the company to test the waters with a more expensive vehicle.

Local assembly joint ventures reported 6,000 sales in the first half of 2000, up 200% year-on-year, but analysts warn there is a still a long road to travel before most local assemblers become profitable.

Encouragingly, private individuals accounted for the bulk of sales, more than compensating for much lower purchasing levels by state agencies and foreign joint ventures. Local assemblers continue to press Hanoi to ban imports of used cars and at the same time to increase local content ratios so as to lower prices.

Toyota was the market leader, reporting 2,171 sales, up 67.8% from the 1,294 units shifted in the corresponding period last year and equating to a market share of 36%, against 29% last year.

Trailing in Toyota's wake were Vietnam Motors Corp. with 1,091 units sold, almost exactly double its H1 1999 total. Next came Vietnam Daewoo Motor Co. (Vidamco) with 644 units, equating to a 10% market share against its 20% share last year. Ford Vietnam sold 501 vehicles and Vinastar 343.

Imports over the first half reached 6,000 units, up 7% YOY.