The new vehicle market surged by almost 59% to 29,036 units in March 2021 from 18,270 units in the same month of last year, according to wholesale data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

The data did not include sales by domestic startup Vinfast, which sold just short of 30,000 vehicles in 2020, and also by some of the smaller non-affiliated local manufacturers. In the first two months of this year, the automaker reportedly sold just over 4,500 vehicles.

The overall market last month rebounded strongly from a weak performance in February, which had far fewer working days due to the Lunar New Year holidays. Economic growth has recovered steadily since hitting a low of 0.4% growth in the second quarter of 2020. Growth in the first quarter of 2021 is estimated at 4.5%, driven mainly by a 19% rise in exports.

First-quarter sales increased by over 32% to 66,191 units from 50,009 units a year earlier, according to the association, with passenger vehicle sales rising by 34% to 49,428 units while commercial vehicle sales were up by close to 29% at 16,763 units.

Truong Hai (Thaco) group, the local assembler and distributor of brands such as Kia, Mazda and Peugeot and a significant player in the commercial vehicle segment, reported an almost 55% surge in group sales to 24,969 units. This includes a 90% jump in Kia sales to 10,719 units, a 32% rise in Mazda sales to 6,475 units and a 15% increase in Thaco truck sales to 5,570 units.

Toyota first-quarter sales fell by 3% to 13,375 units while Mitsubishi sales rose by 42% to 7,112 units, Honda 6,782 units (+28%), Ford 5,914 units (+52%) and Suzuki 3,918 (+64%).