New vehicle sales in Vietnam fell by 8% to 24,133 units in March 2024 from 26,266 a year earlier, according to wholesale data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

The data, as usual, did not include sales by Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Tesla and Nissan, a growing number of Chinese brands and domestic automaker VinFast.

The expiry of the government’s 50% vehicle registration tax discount at the end of last year, which prompted buyers to rush into the market ahead of the deadline, continued to be felt in the market.

VAMA members last month also struggled to recover from the sharp decline in February, when buying activity was held back by the Lunar New Year holidays, despite strong discounting and dealer promotional campaigns.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registration tax will remain at zero until 2026 while the special consumption tax has also been reduced to between 1% and 3% as part of a broader package of government incentives to attract more BEV investment into the country, including import duty cuts for components and charging equipment.

Economic growth slowed to 5.7% year on year in the first quarter from 6.7%, reflecting sluggish domestic consumption amid tight bank lending and weak consumer confidence.

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The VAMA data showed Q1 vehicle sales fell 16% to 50,847 units from 60,800, including a 22% decline in passenger vehicle sales to 36,543 units though commercial vehicle sales were slightly higher at 14,304.

Truong Hai (Thaco) group, a local assembler and distributor of import brands, reported a 21% drop in group sales to 16,335 units year to date (YTD). This included a 27% fall in Kia sales to 6,279 units, a 17% decline in Mazda sales to 5,677 units and a 3% decline in Thaco commercial vehicle sales to 3,885 units.

Toyota sales plunged 46% to 7,321 units YTD in the continued absence of key models including the Hiace and Hilux light commercials.

Ford benefited from that with sales falling just 7% to 8,021 units supported by its popular Ranger pickup, Everest SUV and Transit van models.

Honda sales surged 40% to 6,119 units, Mitsubishi sold 6,050 units (-15%) and Suzuki 4,011 (+12%).