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Scooter Sales Stall in Vietnam: Biting Inflation or Economic Slowdown?

After surging demand, Vietnam's motorbike sales crashed 17% in 2023, marking the lowest level in a decade. Motorbike sales in Vietnam dipped in 2023 to 2.5 million, nearly 17% lower than 2022 sales. Not since 2013 have annual sales been so low. There are many factors influencing motorbike purchasing activity but it is an indicator that inflation, high interest rates, and the global economic slowdown are hitting the average Vietnamese in the pocketbook.

Vietnam is a country obsessed with scooters as any visitor to the Southeast Asia nation quickly realizes. Within the region, it has the highest motorbike ownership rate of 72.8%, with Singapore having the lowest at 2.4%. 50.7% in Thailand own a motorbike, and in the Philippines the rate is 35.7%. Income levels, availability of public transportation, and other factors drive motorbike adoption.

In 2023, according to the Vietnam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, 2.5 million motorbikes were sold, down nearly 17% from 2022. While the figures are difficult to ascertain, it seems that such a low number of bikes sold in one year in Vietnam hasn't occurred since 2013. From 2018 to 2023, more than 3 million bikes were sold per annum except for 2021 when 2.8 million were sold.

Beyond a potential early indicator of economic headwinds for the export-reliant economy, rising inflation, and high interest rates are also factors impacting motorbike purchasing activity. 2022 was a particularly strong year for motorbike sales in the nation due to pent-up demand from the government lockdowns which curtailed spending and economic growth.




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