January auto sales surged 76 percent over the same period last year to 6,961 units, the Vietnam Automobile announced in its monthly report.

Sales of commercial vehicle reported the highest surge of 150 percent with 3,340 units sold. Passenger cars followed with 2,170 units, up 79 percent and MPV/SUV vehicles reached 1,440 units, a 3 percent increase.

However, compared to December when car sales reached 16,065 vehicles, January’s sales were down 53.8 percent. With a year-on-year increase of 59 percent, last December was the best sales month of 2009.

Industry insiders attributed this year’s sharp drop in sales to the Government’s decision to end incentive tax policies for the auto industry. Previously, car buyers benefited from a 50 percent reduction in value-added tax and car registration fees. The Government decision resulted in a roughly 10-12 percent increase in car purchase costs. Last year the Government’s tax incentive policies resulted in sales of a record 120,000 automobiles in the country, including domestically-manufactured and imported units, despite the global economic slump.

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp accounted for 31.8 percent of the country’s total car sales in January, with 2,212 vehicles sold, a year-on-year rise of 109 percent.

GM Daewoo and Ford Vietnam followed with nearly 630 and 373 units sold in January, respectively.

However, some carmakers reported decreased sales last month compared to the same period last year. Honda Vietnam sold only 200 units, a 34 percent decrease. VinaStar’s sales totalled 138 units, down 24 percent, and Isuzu reached 80 units, down 31 percent.

Most automobile manufacturers have forecast 10-20 percent lower sales this year as a result of the increased value-added tax and registration./.