Car sales last year fell 6 percent against the previous year to 112,224 units due to the ongoing effects of the economic crisis, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

The data includes sales of both domestically produced and imported vehicles. According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam imported 53,100 completely built units (CBUs), valued at 960 million USD last year, down 34.1 percent year-on-year and 22.4 percent by value.

The association reported that sales of multi-purpose vehicles declined up to 13 percent and the decreasing figures for commercial vehicles and four-seaters stood at 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Toyota topped sales with a total of 31,135 cars sold last year, up 3 percent over the previous year. Although ranking second with 26,047 cars sold last year, Truong Hai had the highest growth at 20 percent. Vinamotor also reported total sales of 12,274 units.

In December, a total of 12,485 cars were sold, a 17 percent year-on-year decline, the association said. It was the sixth consecutive month the industry suffered a drop in sales.

In that month, Toyota still topped the sales list with 3,603 units sold, however, the figure was still down 14 percent against the same period of 2009. Truong Hai and Vinamotor followed with 2,720 units (down 4 percent) and 1,176 units (down 13 percent), respectively.

Industry insiders admitted that last year was more difficult than 2009 for the domestic auto market because of lingering effects of the global economic crisis. However, they expected this year to see improvements thanks to a new regulation to shave tariffs on vehicles imported from ASEAN countries, effective January 1.

Under the new tariff, vehicles with fewer than nine seats and an engine capacity of 1.8-2.5 litres would see import taxes lowered by 1 percent to 82 percent, while rates for vehicles with larger engines would drop by 6 percent to 77 percent.

Nguyen Van Long, a salesman at an Au Co Street showroom, estimated that vehicles with a cylinder size of less than 2.0 litres would enjoy a reduction of roughly 0.8 percent against the current price. The reductions for vehicles with cylinders of 2.0–3.0 litres would be 0.9 percent. For cars with cylinders of 3.0 litres or more, the savings would be roughly 4.4 percent.

"A Yaris would enjoy a reduction of roughly 126.6 USD, while the figure for a Camry would be 345.6 USD. Buyers of makers like Venza, Lexus and Accura, whose cylinders are more than 3.0 litres, would likely see reductions of roughly 1,019 USD, 2,270 USD and 3,000 USD per unit," Long said./.