Honda was still the most popular brand in Vietnam, with 1.95 million sold last year. Yamaha was second, with 800,000 units sold, followed by SYM.

The year 2011 saw the highest sales of motorbikes in the last decade.

Masayuki Igarashi, head of Honda, said the drop in sales in Vietnam came despite a number of promotion programmes and discounts, including offers to pay registration fees.

The situation has been blamed on both the economic downturn and new higher vehicle fees.

According to motorbike companies, their factories in Vietnam produce 5 million vehicles per year, but only 3-3.5 million of them are sold in the domestic market. Many have plans in place to export already assembled motorbikes to foreign markets, according to Saigontimes Newspaper.

Sales of automatic motorbikes saw a better year, which accounted for 40% of vehicle sales during the year. And even though sales on the whole were down, producers have been making long-term business plans, including developing new models.

Piaggio plans to invest in a research and development centre in hopes of increasing their output to 300,000 vehicles per year. Meanwhile, Honda, who expanded their market share from 61% to 62.2%, has plans to build a third assembly plant in Ha Nam Province which would increase their production capacity to 2.5 million vehicles per year. Yamaha also aims at doubling their output to 1.5 million per year.

Although it has been estimated that the Vietnamese market will reach a saturation point when it reaches production levels of around 4.5 million a year, companies still see potential here.

Igarashi remains optimistic, saying that many production facilities have yet to work at their full capacity and that because of the infrastructure and traffic in Vietnam motorbikes hold a number of advantages for customers over cars and other large vehicles.

By Viet Hung - Dan Tri International News | February 27, 2013