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Feb auto sales down 34% on ebbing demand   2010-03-10 - VietNamNet/SGT

February sales of all Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) members but domestic firm Vinamotor dipped a staggering 34% year-on-year to nearly 4,400 units due to lax demand, according to association figures released on Monday.

Jan auto sales increase 76%

Auto sales agents quoting in VND, selling in dollars

Car dealers weeping about slow sales

Vinamotor which manufactures trucks and commercial vehicles accounted for 18.6% of the total auto sales of VAMA members in January this year.

VAMA member companies sold 2,560 more units in January than in February. VAMA blamed the poor February performance to a 47% shrinkage of demand for sport utility vehicles (SUV) and multi-purpose vehicles (MPV). Sales of commercial vehicles last month were down 53% from a year ago but VAMA put passenger car sale volume at 1,615 units, up 57%.

Mercedes-Benz Vietnam and Toyota Vietnam saw the respective year-on-year sales increases of 25% and 10% to 185 units and over 1,800 units, but some others reported declines of up to 87%.

Hino sales plunged 65% to a meager 30 vehicles last month, and Ford Vietnam sold around 238 vehicles, down 52%. VinaStar (Mitsubishi) and Honda Vietnam faced the same situation with their respective sales dropping 77% to 44 units and 70% to 88 units. Isuzu Vietnam was not spared with sales slumping 87% to 27 units and GM Daewoo saw an 11% contraction to more than 500 units.

Domestic automobile manufacturers like Truong Hai and Samco posted hefty falls in sales in February as well.

With January-February figures combined, however, sales of VAMA members grew 7% year-on-year to 11,355 units thanks to better results in January.

The passenger car segment was most impressive with sales expanding a hefty 69%, while commercial vehicle sales increased 3%. Toyota was still the market leader in terms of volume with more than 4,000 units sold in the first two months, up 49% year-on-year.

The auto industry this year will face extra difficulties as vehicle registration fees will be adjusted up to 10-12% from the previous 5-6%. Automakers and auto importers early this year announced higher prices since VAT on automobiles was doubled to 10% from January 1. What’s more, the Vietnamese dong has declined about 3.3% against the U.S. dollar, leading automakers to revise up their selling prices from this month.

Similarly, sales of imported cars also fell in the first two months despite promotions after the Government removed tax holidays that were in place earlier, importers said. They declined to give exact numbers, but said sales fell 30-40% year-on-year.

Car costs have since early this year risen 10-12% given that VAT was brought back to 10% and registration fees to 12%. Other sales-affecting factors were banks’ restrictions on car loans and the depreciation of the dong.

Imported cars attract a tariff of 83%, which goes up in case of luxury cars.

The 50% waiver of value-added tax (VAT) and car registration fees resulted in record sales of 120,000 units last year, including 76,300 imported cars, despite the global economic slump.

The country reportedly imported 5,900 completely-built units (CBU) worth of US$94 million in the two first months this year. In February, the import volume was 2,500 units worth US$39 million, down 26.5% from January, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said.

GSO said the sharp decrease was a common trend as the first two months of each year often saw a sharp reduction in car imports due to slackened local demand.

Automakers said the market was expected to rebound at the end of the year, so total sales in all of 2010 might match the figure recorded last year.

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