New vehicle sales in Vietnam fell by 7.4% to 19,213 units in August from already weak year earlier sales of 20,746 units, according to member data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Despite strong economic growth in the country, estimated at 7.1% in the first half of 2018, sales struggled to recover from the 2017 decline. Sales in the first eight months of the year (YTD) were 1.9% lower at 162,404 units compared with weak 2017 YTD sales of 165,581 units.

Law changes introduced by the Vietnamese government at the beginning of the year affected the flow of vehicle imports into the country despite import tariffs cut to zero on vehicles from neighbouring ASEAN countries.

While sales of passenger vehicles in Vietnam increased by over 12% to 109,737 units in the January-August period from 97,694 units a year earlier, commercial vehicles sales fell by over 22% to 52,667 units. Some of the biggest declines were in the pickup truck segment which relies on imports from Thailand.

Truong Hai (Thaco) group, the local assembler and distributor of Kia, Mazda, Peugeot and Hyundai, and a significant player in the commercial vehicle segment, reported a 5.2% year on year rise in group sales to 64,106 units YTD. 

Mazda sales alone were up by over 25% at 20,944 units, while Kia sales rose by close to 20% to 18,269 units.

Toyota remained the leading vehicle brand in the country YTD, albeit with sales falling by 12.5% to 34,749 units, while Honda's sales almost doubled to 15,220 units.

Ford volume fell by over 35% to 12,309 units and GM was 3% lower at 7,037 units.

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