Auto sales on rise

Seventeen members of the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturing Association (VAMA) in February sold a total of nearly 6,120 vehicles, up a significant 43 percent over January, but down 25 percent compared to a year earlier.

Sales of trucks and commercial vehicles doubled to over 3,000 units, while sales of MPV/SUV vehicles grew by 28 percent.

VAMA members launched no new products but their sales promotion programmes offered from the end of January helped increase February sales, especially in the sedan and MPV/SUV segments, the association said.

Truong Hai beat Japanese Toyota to take the lead in terms of sales which increased by 114 percent to 1,872 vehicles, about 30 units more than Toyota's figure.

The "big two" were followed by Vinaxuki with 592 vehicles sold, and GM Vietnam, with 534 units.

Suzuki ranked fifth with its sales rising 20 times (360 vehicles sold in February) to surpass Ford (only 216 units).

According to VAMA, several firms had significant sales growth last month including Mercedes-Benz Vietnam at 85 percent, Isuzu at 42 percent, and Vinamotor at 22 percent.

On the contrary, Honda Vietnam could sell only 14 Civic vehicles and no imported CR-V and Accord models.

In terms of best sellers, Toyota still led the market with two-thirds of the highest selling sedans for the month with about 820 Corolla Altis, Vios and Camry units sold.

Truong Hai followed closely, representing two-fifths of this group, with 394 Kia Morning/Picanto and Kia fore/Cerato units sold. For the MPV/SUV segment, Toyota also took the lead as it accounted for two-fifths of the highest selling group, with 795 Innova and Fortuner vehicles sold, followed by Truong Hai with 138 Kia Carens units, Ford with 138 Everest units and Nissan with 35 Livina units.

Many industry insiders said the domestic automobile market will remain quiet despite these satisfactory results. However the strong rally in February could be considered an optimistic sign for the market in the coming months.

Nguyen Van Thang, director of a Ford agent in Vietnam, told Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam (Vietnam Economic Times) that though demand for cars was high, banks maintained tightened lending practices for car purchases and the taxes and fees increased. Therefore, customers had to think twice before buying the products.

"It seems there will be few opportunities for manufacturers to increase sales like they did in 2011. It's likely that sales of VAMA members will significantly recover from the end of the second quarter," he told the newspaper.

In the first two months of the year, VAMA members sold nearly 10,400 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 44 percent. Toyota topped in two-month sales with 3,400 units, followed by Truong Hai with 2,700 units, and GM and Vinaxuki with a combined number of around 1,100 units.