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New vehicle sales in Vietnam fell by 16% to 9,298 units in March, from 11,051 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Sales of passenger cars almost doubled in the month, to 2,710 from 1,357 units, but this was more than offset by a sharp drop in SUV and MPV sales of 48% to 2,280 units; sales of commercial vehicles fell by 19% to 4,305 units.

The overall sales decline reflects price rises following the VAT rate increase from 5% to 10% at the beginning of the year as part of the withdrawal of last year’s economic stimulus measures. The dong has also depreciated sharply since the end of last year, making it more expensive to import CKD components.

First quarter sales were down by just 2% year-on-year to 21,289 units, with passenger car sales up by 80% to 6,500 units as customers choose smaller, lower cost models. Sales of SUVs and MPVs fell by 39% to 4,889 units, while commercial vehicle volumes slipped by 2% to 9,900 units.

Toyota continued to strengthen its grip on the market, with first quarter sales rising by almost 34% to 7,128 units, to account for over one-third of total volumes.  Second-placed Truong-Hai reported a 27% increase in sales to 3,946 units, reflecting strong demand for Kia passenger vehicles.

Tony Pugliese

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