Vietnam's new vehicle market finished the year strongly in 2018, with sales jumping by close to 36% to 32,511 units in December from year earlier sales of 23,963 units, according to member data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Economic growth accelerated to 7.3% in the fourth quarter of last year from a revised 6.8% in the third quarter, driven by strong service and manufacturing sector growth and inward investment. This rounded off a strong year for the economy, with full year GDP growth estimated at 7.1%, up from 6.8% in 2017.

In the whole of 2018 new vehicle sales increased by 10.5% to 276,817 units from 250,619 units in 2017, lifted by a strong second half as imports recovered following restrictive regulations introduced at the beginning of 2018.

Passenger vehicle sales jumped by close to 31% to 192,084 units from 146,994 units, while commercial vehicle sales struggled with volume declining by over 18% to 84,733 units from 103,625 units in 2017.

Truong Hai (Thaco) group, the local assembler and distributor of brands including Kia, Mazda, Peugeot and Hyundai and a significant player in the commercial vehicle segment, reported a 7.3% rise in group sales to 96,127 units last year. Mazda sales alone were up by almost 26% at 32,728 units while Kia sales rose by close to 31% to 28,986 units.

Toyota remained the leading vehicle brand in Vietnam last year with sales rising by almost 11% to 65,856 units while Honda's sales more than doubled to 27,099 units. Ford's sales fell by almost 14% to 24,636 units and GM's were 16.6% higher at 12,334 units.