VinFast, the Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer, is shipping its first batch of EVs to the US, capping a five-year effort to develop a Southeast Asian hub for the North American and European markets.
The shipment includes 999 VF 8s, an all-electric crossover with 402 horsepower, 472 pound-feet of torque, around 290 miles of range, and a starting price of $40,700. The first cars are expected to be handed over to preorder customers by the end of December, the company said. Some of the vehicles will end up with Autonomy, a car subscription service, but the majority will go to retail customers.
“A proud historical milestone for the Vietnamese automotive industry”
“The export of the first 999 VF 8s is a significant event for VinFast and Vingroup and a proud historical milestone for the Vietnamese automotive industry,” Nguyen Viet Quang, vice chair and CEO of Vingroup, said in a press release. “It affirms that Vietnam has successfully produced high-quality standards electric vehicles that are ready to compete in the international market.”
A second batch of cars is expected to ship to the US in January. In addition to the VF 8 and VF 9, both of which are SUVs, VinFast’s smart electric vehicle lineup comprises the VF 5, VF 6, and VF 7, all of which were designed by Pininfarina and Torino Design. The company’s lineup features the characteristic wing-shaped LED lighting signature of VinFast, sculpted bodies, and other styling details for a family look.
VinFast aims to eventually localize production in the US, with plans to begin making cars at a plant in North Carolina starting in 2024. By localizing production, the company hopes to qualify for the US tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle.
Challenges remain, though. The North Carolina factory project is running months behind schedule based on the company’s initial targets, and the first shipment of EVs built by VinFast was short of the initial goal to deliver as many as 5,000 cars built at its factory in Haiphong by December. VinFast said the number of vehicles in its first shipment, 999, was chosen because it is lucky in Vietnam.