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Domestic car market sees sluggish sales in year-end sale season

VIETNAM, December 17 - HÀ NỘI — While normally a positive time for car sales, this year the domestic automobile market is seeing gloomy days as Tết approaches, according to local car experts.

The sluggish sales are attributed to a tightening credit market, higher interest rates and stagnant real estate and stock markets. Few people have money to buy cars so those who are looking at this time must really have a need and enough money.

Nguyễn Văn Thắng, an owner of a car dealership on Lê Văn Lương Street, said most banks do not give priority to car loans while interest rates are quite high. This factor greatly affected the car market in general and used cars in particular, especially luxury and expensive ones.

In November, many car models saw slight increases in prices due to rising input costs, logistics, and exchange rates. However, car traders had to reduce prices in early December due to sluggish sales.

Nguyễn Văn Nam, sales manager of a Hyundai showroom in Hà Nội, said that in December, he lowered prices by between VNĐ15-30 million (US$625-1,250) of popular Hyundai models such as Accent, Grand i10, and Elantra.

Lê Thái Sơn, a car salesman at a Honda showroom in Cầu Giấy District, said the prices of many Honda models were reduced, for instance, the Honda CR-V at this time would get an attractive discount of between VNĐ70 million-90 million.

According to a survey, most car manufacturers are offering good discounts. For instance, Toyota Vietnam has offered a promotion campaign for models such as Veloz, Vios, or the 7-seat MPV segment with discounts of between VNĐ30-40 million. Meanwhile, many dealers also have launched promotions by offering free registration or direct discounts on price.

No customers, no business

Despite racing to slash selling prices or launching promotion campaigns, the local car market has remained quiet.

Trần Đức Hùng, a Hà Nội resident who is planning to purchase a vehicle, found himself wondering whether he should opt for a new car or not. Hùng said that if he bought a new car, he would have to borrow about VNĐ400 million ($16,666) from a commercial bank for a term of five years.

With this loan, Hùng has to pay an amount of nearly VNĐ6.7 million monthly, of which VNĐ4.5 million was interest. Once his debt was paid off, his car would end up costing an additional VNĐ130 million due to bank interest.

Sales manager of a Hyundai showroom Văn Nam said since the end of the second quarter this year, car loans from commercial banks have had an interest rate of 13-15.5 per cent a year, while car loans during the COVID-19 pandemic were between 9.5 and 9.9 per cent a year.

Car loans offered by foreign banks in Việt Nam are between 10-11 per cent per year, however, lending procedures are very strict, and borrowers must have high incomes and their salary must be paid via banks.

Nam said his showroom’s car sales have decreased by about 40 per cent from the beginning of this year. His showroom set a target of selling 200 units in December, but it has been hard to achieve it.

Frozen used car sales

Meanwhile, used car sales have been gloomier, said Đình Hưng, a car trader. Since he started trading used cars, this has been the bleakest time. Hưng attributed his slow sales to higher interest rates and tightening credit. He complained that he had to borrow money from banks for his business, and it was very difficult to pay off his loans as his used cars have gone unsold. In addition, manufacturers are offering attractive discounts for new cars.

Sharing the same view, car dealer Nguyễn Quyết said in the first months of this year, the used car market was boisterous and many used vehicles were even sold at higher prices than new cars due to global supply shortages. Contrary to early months, the year-end used car market is quite gloomy. Meanwhile, Quyết still has to pay salaries to his staff, rent payment and bank interest, and sell vehicles at a loss.

November auto sales dip after four months of growth

November auto sales posted a decline from October after four consecutive months of growth, but sales for the year so far have still achieved double-digit growth.

According to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) report issued on December 13, automobile sales including imports were down 5.9 per cent year-on-year to 36,371 units in November. CKD volume reached 18,813 units and CBU volume was 17,558 units.

Trường Hải Auto Corporation (Thaco) led in the period with 123,140 units sold, up 38 per cent year-on-year. This included a 51 per cent rise in Kia sales to 57,784 units, a 52 per cent jump in Mazda volume to 33,552 units and a 68 per cent surge in Peugeot sales to 9,725 units while Thaco truck sales fell 6 per cent to 20,143.

The company was followed by Toyota with 81,491 units, and Mitsubishi with 36,805 units. Honda and Ford rounded out the top five. Last month, automaker VinFast shipped its first batch of 999 electric cars to the US. The company expects to sell 750,000 electric vehicles annually by 2026.

Total sales in the first 11 months this year rose 43 per cent year-on-year to 369,334 units. Of that total, sales of CKD vehicles reached 208,822 and those of CBU imported vehicles reached 160,512 units. — VNS