Low interest rates and a brighter economic outlook in Vietnam sent new-vehicle sales soaring in the first half of the year.

This allayed worries of a market slowdown and set the industry up for a strong second half.

Sales in the first six months of 2014 rose 27 percent over the same period last year to 54,986 units, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Of the figure, cars were up 36 percent and trucks up 24 percent.

The association, which comprises country's 21 leading auto makers, said in its monthly report on July 10 that this was the 15th consecutive month that sales had been higher.

VAMA's Chairman Jesus Arias said with this momentum, the full year total industry forecast for 2014 was adjusted up to 130,000 units, a 18 percent growth from 2013.

Nguyen Van Dung, General Director of Northern Automobile Corporation, a prominent auto dealer in Vietnam, said incoming indicators were consistent with a rebound in the economy.

"We've seen good improvement in manufacturing activity. Consumer sentiment has been good, and incomes are gaining ground." he added.

Vietnam's economy has been stable for the first half of the year with a GDP growth rate of 5.18 percent and inflation at 1.38 percent against December last year – the lowest rise in the past 13 years.

In addition, the latest forecast from the World Bank shows that Vietnam's economic growth will be around 5.5 percent this year, better than expected.

Of the VAMA's list, Vietnamese manufacturer Truong Hai Auto Corp, which assembles trucks, buses and sedans, extends its leading position, which it gained from Toyota in May. The company, based in the central province of Quang Nam, sold 17,851 vehicles in the first half, registering a year-on-year increase of 40 percent.

Japanese invested Toyota ranked second with 16,653 units sold, up 12 per cent, followed by Ford with 5,264 units, up 54 percent.

Meanwhile, the country imported 25,000 completely built units (CBU) cars worth 500 million USD in the first half, an increase of 44.4 percent in volume and 53.9 percent in value year-on-year. About 25 percent of the imports were luxury sedans and sports utility vehicles (SUV), according to the Customs Office.-VNA