Automobile joint ventures in Vietnam have been importing pick-up trucks from their factories in Southeast Asia in large quantities for domestic sale, the English language news website VietNamNet Bridge reported.

A report from the General Department of Customs showed that 4,300 cars were imported under the mode of complete built unit (CBU) to Vietnam from ASEAN countries in the first five months of the year, worth 65.4 million USD. More than 50 percent of the imports were pick-ups.

Explaining the strong surge of pick-up imports, an analyst said trucks have enjoyed tax preference over other products like sedans, MPVs and SUVs. Pick-ups from ASEAN countries are subject to five percent import tax, 15 percent luxury tax and 2 percent ownership registration tax.

In addition, the domestic demand for pick-ups has been increasing rapidly since pickups have become better designed and more comfortable.

In the past, pick-ups were sold mostly to businesses that needed to carry cargo.

Meanwhile, they are now sold to individuals who use them as family cars or to people who want to save money, particularly as diesel prices are lower than petrol prices, which are rising.

Realising the increase in demand for pick-ups, automobile joint ventures have been stepping up the import of pick-ups from Thailand.

A representative of Toyota Vietnam said Hilux, a Toyota pick-up model made in Thailand, would be imported in large quantities soon.

Pick-up models available in Vietnam have been offered for up to 750 million VND, which are still higher than in other regional countries, even though taxes and fees have been cut.

However, prices are expected to fall sharply in the time to come as import tariffs decrease gradually under the framework of the ASEAN free trade agreements. The import tariff will fall to zero percent by 2018.

By that time, analysts say, the demand for pick-ups will be even higher, while pick-ups may replace cars in many families’ garages.

However, analysts said the Vietnamese automobile industry would not benefit from the pick-up movement.

Most of the pick-up models available in Vietnam are the CBU imports from Thailand. A pick-up is defined by the Thai government as a strategic car product, so manufacturers receive generous tax incentives from the government.

A report showed that the pickup output at times accounts for 75 percent of the total car output in Thailand. The country is known as one of the world’s biggest pick-up truck exporters.

In the past, some Vietnamese enterprises planned to import car parts and assemble pick-ups in Vietnam for domestic sale and export to the Middle East. However, when the pick-up import tariff reduced to five percent, they gave up those plans.

Analysts believe that Thai manufacturers will receive the biggest benefits from the rising demand in the Vietnamese market.-VNA