New vehicle sales in Vietnam jumped by almost 54% to 17,156 units in February, from 11,169 units a year earlier, according to member data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

The data does not include some non-affiliated imported brands which means that the actual market size is larger than these figures suggest.

The market strongly rebounded after an uncharacteristic drop in January, of over 10%, due to the lunar new year holidays which reduced the number of working days compared with the previous year. 

The Vietnamese economy continued to strengthen in the last two quarters after a growth slowdown in the first half of 2016 due to a severe drought in parts of the country. Annual GDP growth now is estimated to be comfortably over 6%.

In the first two months of the year vehicle sales were up by over 11% at 36,769 units, from 33,074 units a year earlier, driven by a 21% rise in passenger vehicle sales to 24,281 units. Commercial vehicle sales were 4% lower at 12,488 units in the same period, however.

Toyota was the leading brand in the January-February period with sales rising by 21% to 8,897 units. Truong Hai (Thaco) group, the local assembler and distributor of brands such as Kia, Mazda, Peugeot and Hyundai, reported a 9% increase in group sales to 14,235 units.

Ford's sales rose by 8% to 4,425 units in the two month period while Honda's sales rose by 40% to 1,779 units; and GM Vietnam's sales were 22% higher at 1,827 units.