New vehicle sales in Vietnam plunged by almost 40% to 18,270 units in March 2020 from 30,199 units in the same month of last year, according to wholesale data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Last month's sharp decline followed a volatile first two months of the year with monthly sales distorted by the annual Lunar New Year holidays in the last week of January.

Consumer and business activity in March was disrupted by local lockdowns and international travel restrictions as the government sought to slow the spread of the COVID19 coronavirus.

The vehicle market in the first quarter of 2020 was down by almost 32% at 50,009 units from 73,464 units in the same period of last year.

Passenger vehicle deliveries fell by almost 35% to 36,966 units in this period from 56,704 units while commercial vehicle sales were down by over 22% at 13,043 units from 16,760 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 29% drop in group sales to 16,149 units in the first three months of the year.

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This included a 49% plunge in Mazda sales to 4,889 units and a 25% drop in Kia sales to 5,627 units.

Toyota remained the leading vehicle brand in the country, albeit with sales falling by 28% to 13,748 units, while Honda sales plunged by close to 39% to 5,290 units.

Mitsubishi Motors sales were down by just 10% at 5,001 units, underpinned by strong demand for the Xpander MPV.