Vietnam’s new vehicle market continued to recover in May 2021, with sales rising by over 19% to 22,152 units from 18,571 units a year earlier, according to wholesale data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

The country’s GDP was estimated to have expanded by 4.5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021 after growing by an average of 2.8% in 2020, driven mainly by strong growth in exports and buoyant foreign direct investment (FDI).

A surge in COVID-19 infections had slowed domestic economic activity in the last month or so, however, with the service sector the worst affected.

Vehicle sales in the first five months of the year were almost 45% higher at 115,044 units from 79,396 units a year earlier, with passenger vehicle sales rising by over 48% to 84,788 units while commercial vehicle sales were up by close to 37% at 30,256 units.

Truong Hai (Thaco) group, the local assembler and distributor of brands such as Kia, Mazda, Peugeot, BMW-Mini and a significant player in the commercial vehicle segment, reported a 67% surge in group sales to 43,996 units in the five-month period. This included a 115% jump in Kia sales to 18,266 units, a 44% rise in Mazda sales to 11,435 units and a 20% increase in Thaco truck sales to 10,415 units.

Toyota sales rose by 16% to 24,112 units year-to-date while Mitsubishi Motors’ sales jumped by 77% to 13,090 units, Ford 10,144 units (+57%), Honda 10,134 units (+15%) and Suzuki 5,341 (+51%).

The VAMA data did not include sales by domestic start-up Vinfast, which delivered 24,112 vehicles in Vietnam in 2020. The company reported 2,855 sales in May 2021 and 12,421 units year-to-date. It is set to launch its first electric vehicle (EV) and is calling on the Vietnamese government to introduce sales incentives to help lift demand.