May 8, 2009 / 5:35 AM / 11 years ago

Vietnam Jan-April car sales drop 38 pct yr/yr

HANOI, May 8 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s car sales dropped 38 percent in the first four months of this year as tight credit and a weakening economy hit demand.

January-April sales by the 16 car makers operating in the Southeast Asian country dropped to 29,289 units from 47,366 vehicles a year earlier, the Vietnam Automobiles Manufacturers Association said in a report on Friday.

Dealers say demand could slow significantly for the rest of the year as consumers shelve big ticket items such as cars and houses. Last year, car sales increased by 37 percent to a record 110,186 units.

Vietnam’s economy grew an estimated 3.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace in at least a decade.

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) retained its pole position with its 4-month sales down only 15 percent to 6,751 vehicles. Sales by Ford Motor Co (F.N) fell by a third to 1,988 units and Honda’s (7267.T) sales slumped 44 percent to 1,220 units.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T), Proton PROT.KL, Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T) and Nissho Iwai, part of Sojitz Holdings Corp (2768.T), are among the car makers with assembly plants in Vietnam. (Reporting by Nguyen Nhat Lam, Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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