You may not have heard about VinFast, a new Vietnamese automaker that will be selling electric vehicles by the end of the year in North America. But chances are you will become familiar with the name as the startup rolls out ever-more-ambitions plans. The company now confirms it will follow its first two midsize electric SUVs this year with two smaller SUV EVs for American buyers in 2023.
VinFast will export the two-row 2023 VinFast VF 8 and three-row 2023 VinFast VF 9 from its plant in Vietnam to about 30 company-owned outlets in California in the fourth quarter of 2022. The automaker will add the VinFast VF 7 compact electric SUV and the subcompact VinFast VF 6 to the North American lineup in 2023, VinFast US chief service officer Craig Westbrook said today during an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit. The SUVs will also be exported from the Vietnamese plant in Hai Phong, near Hanoi. The tiny VinFast VF 5 will be for Europe and Asia only. Down the road the portfolio could expand to include an electric pickup truck and sedans.
VinFast Subcompact and Compact Electric SUVs
VinFast has shown concepts of the smaller SUVs, and Westbrook says the production models will be largely unchanged. It is too early to release pricing, but VinFast is setting itself apart with a different pricing approach where the vehicle price does not include the battery pack, which must be leased at a monthly rate. After 2024, buyers can choose to buy or lease their battery.
Those who lease gain peace of mind that the powertrain battery will be replaced with a new one if the battery charging rate degrades below 70 percent, and all battery maintenance expenses are covered over the life of the vehicle. Westbrook says the cost structuring is still being hammered out, knowing consumers can’t face surprises down the road such as a sudden hike in the lease price, or a scenario where battery leasing continues after the owner no longer has the vehicle.
Pricing Strategy Includes Leasing Battery Separately
Initially the five-passenger VF 8, offered in two trims with 348 to 402 horsepower and a range of 248 to 260 miles, starts at $41,900 plus the monthly battery leasing charge of $35 to $110, depending on the subscription plan. The larger VF 9 that seats up to seven, with 402 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, and a range of 262 to 272 miles, starts at $56,700, with battery leasing for $44 to $160 a month. The vehicles, designed with Pininfarina and engineered with help from Magna, come with a 10-year or 125,000-mile warranty.
A promotion for those who reserve a VinFast by September 30—there are about 8,000 reservations in the US right now and almost 50,000 globally—is a free 11.5-kW level 2 home charger and $1,200 credit to install it, or three years of unlimited complimentary charging sessions with Electrify America. Also included in the promotion is a one-year Smart Driving package that includes Level 2+ advanced driver-assistance systems. VinFast will not build its own dedicated charging network but will offer an app that makes it easy to use the existing network of Electrify America, EVgo, and others.
VinFast North Carolina Plant on Track
The company is building a vehicle assembly plant near Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as a battery plant. When production begins in July, 2024, and ramps up to its annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles in phase 1, VinFast will stop importing vehicles from Vietnam for this market. And phase 2, a doubling of the $2 billion facility, is expected to follow quickly, Westbrook says.
As for retail outlets, there will be events this summer to celebrate the opening of the first six outlets in California, growing to 30 by year’s end. VinFast is adopting a direct-to-consumer model and will use its corporate-owned retail outlets to deliver and service vehicles in the state.
VinFast is part of Vingroup, a large private conglomerate in Vietnam that is into real estate, hotels, theme parks, housing, as well as non-profit schools, health care and more. Vingroup has a market value of $33 billion. VinFast started selling vehicles in Vietnam with internal combustion engines, but starting next year it will build electric vehicles only.