Despite opportunities in Vietnam, local industry faces challenges

Faith remains in the motorisation of Vietnam, which expects growth after a subdued 2017. But whilst ASEAN-wide policies ease access, the government has moved to protect local industry. By Xavier Boucherat

2017 was not a spectacular year for the Vietnamese automotive industry. New registrations totalled just over 272,750 units in 2017, down 10% compared with 2016’s figure of 304,427. Compared with a 24% increase in Thailand and a 17% increase in the Philippines, the country’s sales were among the worst in the major ASEAN countries.

Yet the country is still being touted as one of ASEAN’s most promising markets for growth, and the previous year was not all doom and gloom - it surpassed 2017 GDP targets, for example, with growth of 6.81% beating a forecast of 6.7%. Vietnam has become a middle-income economy, but it is still due a sizeable wave of motorisation; indeed, figures from Asia-focused consultancy Solidiance show it has one of the region’s lower vehicle ownership rates, at only 16 vehicles per thousand people.

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