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VinFast shows off a midsize truck and small utility EV for North America

VinFast shows off a midsize truck and small utility EV for North America

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The Vietnamese company has big plans, but it’s been plagued by quality issues and bad reviews.

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VinFast VF Wild electric truck concept at CES
Image: VinFast

Vietnam’s VinFast must really want a slice of the EV market in the US based on the vehicles it brought to CES in Las Vegas this year: a midsize pickup truck that looks to be about the same size as the Toyota Tacoma, and a small utility EV called the VF3 that was first introduced last year.

Theoretically, both of these vehicles could sell really well in the US. Trucks are some of the most popular vehicles in the country, and a midsize electric truck could do quite well given most of the segment is dominated by full-size ones. A small, affordable crossover like the VF3, which aims for mass-market appeal, could help folks who are on a budget go fully electric.

Theoretically, both of these vehicles could sell really well in the US

But all of that is dependent on building cars people want to buy, and VinFast has had a rough time so far trying to break into the US market. Its first global vehicle, the VF8, has been called “the worst reviewed car in America.” The company recently named its founder and chief financial backer, Pham Nhat Vuong, as CEO, replacing Le Thi Thu Thuy, who had held the post since late 2021.

Founded in 2017, VinFast started manufacturing EVs in 2021 and has continuously received financial support from Vuong, who is Vietnam’s richest man — most recently, a $1 billion grant in April 2023, according to Reuters. It began delivering cars in California last March, selling around 21,200 units as of the third quarter of last year. The company says it plans to build factories in the US, India, and Indonesia.

Taking all of that into consideration, the new concepts that were displayed at CES are a sign of what’s to come from the brand. The VF Wild electric truck concept features the same wing-shaped LED lighting signature, sculpted bodies, and other styling details seen on VinFast’s other vehicles. The truck’s bed includes a power-folding midgate that expands the length from five to eight feet. No range, pricing, or production timing was provided for the VF Wild.

We similarly got limited details about the VF3, a cute two-door “mini-eSUV” for city dwellers. With a targeted range of 125 miles, the VF3 will likely fall in the same category as the Fiat 500e when it goes on sale in the US. VinFast didn’t provide timing for deliveries but said it would start to take reservations later this year. The EV could theoretically fill the gap left by discontinued small vehicles like the BMW i3 and Chevy Bolt EV.

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. 

VinFast will need to overcome a number of obstacles before it can establish itself as a serious contender in the EV market. VinFast stock was trading Wednesday at $6.65 apiece as of Monday, around 30 percent below its listing price and 85 percent below the closing price on its IPO day. And the company may need to go back to the drawing board before releasing these vehicles to the public — if the “abysmal” reviews of the VF8 crossover are any indication of future quality.