The U.S.A. dispatches its Secretary of State to complain to Japan about less than 8000 vehicles exported from the U.S. not benefiting from the Japanese cash-o for clunker-u. At the same time, a new car market is starting to explode, without anybody noticing: Vietnam.
Vietnam imported 76,300 units in 2009, nearly 10 times the U.S. exports to Japan. The increase was 51 percent on the year, an all-time high, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Sales of domestically manufactured vehicles were 115,000 units in 2009, up only 3 percent, but still a record. A total market of some 200,000 units is not much compared to neighbor China, but it’s a strong start.
Auto demand in Vietnam has been picking up especially fast in the third quarter of 2009, when the country’s economy turned around. The Nikkei reports that import dealers are springing up in major towns, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Traffic congestion is becoming a problem. The population of Vietnam is 86m, slightly more than Germany.
Any car manufacturer that is not present in the growth markets of Asia will perish. The Japanese have a large footprint in Vietnam. The chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) is Akito Tachibana, president of Toyota Vietnam. He projects further growth for 2010.