Vietnam’s dominant foreign car assembler, Toyota Motor Corp., reportedly said on Friday it had received licenses to set up two parts plants with a combined investment of $US52.78 million.

The plants, to be built in the northern port city of Hai Phong, will produce airbags for export, a company official told Reuters.

Toyota, which accounted for more than one-fourth of all car sales of the 11 foreign car makers in Vietnam during the first eight months of this year, had forecast a 25% drop in its car sales in 2004 due to higher taxes, the news agency noted. The firm’s sales during the January-August period fell nearly 18% to 1,277 units.

But car dealers expect sales to pick up between now and the end of the year as buyers rush to beat a state plan to raise special consumption tax rates to 40% from January 2005 from 24% this year, Reuters added.