Vietnam-based Electric Vehicle Startup VinFast Ships its First Vehicles to the U.S.

Vietnam-based Electric Vehicle Startup VinFast Ships its First Vehicles to the U.S.

Author: Eric Walz   

Electric vehicle leader Tesla and other automakers competing in the growing electric vehicle market in the U.S. are about to get some new competition from Vietnam-based electric carmaker VinFast.

VinFast shipped its first batch of vehicles to the U.S. last week and the company eyes international expansion. The first shipment of electric cars via a Panamanian container ship to North America included 999 VinFast VF 8 SUVs. The company's entry into the U.S. market is a milestone for Vietnam's automotive industry.

The vehicles are expected to arrive at a Southern California port from Haiphong, Vietnam in about 20 days after a 7,000-plus mile journey across the Pacific Ocean. The shipment of VF 8 battery-powered SUVs is the first international export for VinFast.

The first VinFast customers in the U.S. can expect their vehicles to be delivered by the end of the year, according to the automaker. Following this first batch of cars for the American market, VinFast will continue to export VF 8 SUVs to Canada and Europe for customer deliveries slated for early 2023.

VinFast says it has received 65,000 orders for its five-passenger VF 8 and seven-passenger VF 9 SUVs, which are the company's first and second models. VF9 customers in Vietnam and international markets should expect their vehicles sometime in the first quarter of 2023.

VinFast unveiled the electric VF 8 and VF 9 SUVs at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Nov 2021.

The VF 8 is available in two trims, Eco and Plus. The Eco model version is equipped with an electric motor with a maximum output of 260kW. WLTP range is 420 km (260 miles). 

The VF 8 Plus version is outfitted with a more powerful electric motor that delivers a maximum power of 300kW. WLTP range estimates for this version is 400km (248 miles).

"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," said Nguyen Viet Quang, Vice Chairman and CEO of Vingroup. "It affirms that Vietnam has successfully produced high-quality standards electric vehicles that are ready to compete in the international market." 

VinFast is also selling its vehicles to fleet operators. At the recent Los Angeles Auto Show this month, VinFast announced a new order with Autonomy, one of the largest car subscription companies in the U.S.

In preparation for entering the U.S. market, VinFast simultaneously opened its first six U.S. retail showrooms in California in August. The retail stores are intended to showcase and sell the company's electric vehicles. It's a similar retail model as EV startups Rivian, Polestar and Lucid Group that don't have a traditional network of dealerships.

VinFast has since established global operations in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands as part of its global expansion plans. VinFast says its strongly committed to an affordable pricing strategy to accelerate sustainable electric mobility. 

VinFast's strategy is to expand its network of retail locations in order to build personalized relationships with its customers, ensuring peace of mind throughout the process of buying and owning a VinFast electric vehicle.


The VinFast retail store in Santa Monica, California.

VinFast was established in 2017 as a subsidiary of Vietnam-based VinGroup, a leading private conglomerate in the region with a market cap of $35 billion. The company currently builds EVs in its home country, including e-scooters, electric buses and electric cars, along with charging stations and other green energy solutions. 

Parent company VinGroup was founded in 1993 and currently focuses on three main areas, technology and industry, services and social enterprise. VinFast was established as part of VinGroup's mission to drive the global smart electric vehicle revolution.

VinFast also owns a state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing complex in Hai Phong, Vietnam. The facility uses robotics and boasts up to 90% automation of its vehicle assembly lines. The factory will have the capacity to produce 950,000 EVs per year by 2026, according to VinFast.

VinFast completed construction of the factory and developed its first three car models in just 21 months, which is unprecedented speed in the auto industry. The EV startup launched its first model, the VF e34 compact electric SUV, for the Vietnamese market in 2021.  

In October, China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), which is the biggest supplier of electric vehicle batteries to the auto industry, announced the signing of an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with VinFast for the co-development of a dedicated skateboard platform for battery-powered vehicles.

The two companies plan to closely collaborate on CATL's integrated intelligent chassis ("CIIC") EV skateboard platforms that could help VinFast significantly lower its production costs in the future. 

The development of a new CIIC platform follows the current cooperation on a "cell-to-pack" (CTP) battery supply agreement between VinFast and CATL. CTP technology incorporates the battery cells directly into an electric vehicle's chassis, which allows for more cells to be packed into an EV to extend range.

EVs built on CATL's CIIS platform will offer competitive range, safety, and intelligent driving capabilities, according to VinFast.

As a new EV company competing in a highly competitive global market that's currently dominated by Tesla, working with CATL will help VinFast to more quickly expand its global reach. 

In May, VinFast also signed an MoU to build a new electric vehicle factory in North Carolina. VinFast plans to  invest up to $4 billion in the plant to build its EVs in the U.S. North Carolina's Economic Investment Committee voted to approve an incentive package worth a total of more than $850 million for VinFast's vehicle and battery factory in Chatham County, NC.

Also in May, VinFast's Singapore-based holding company filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with U.S. securities regulators. VinFast is considering a U.S. IPO that could value the company up to $60 billion and make it more attractive to investors. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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