VinFast is a brand-new EV-only manufacturer committed to establishing a major presence in the consumer and fleet markets in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. While a relatively new player in the automotive market, VinFast has the resources behind it to make inroads in the fleet market as a member company of the larger Vingroup conglomerate, a 29-year-old Vietnamese organization that has annual sales north of $35 billion.
Plus, the timing is right for VinFast to enter the U.S. fleet market based on today’s supply constraints as fleets are scrambling to find alternative OEMs to source vehicles. Although the market is crowded with established automakers and a wide range of startups, VinFast in foresees EV demand exceeding available product supply, which offers opportunities for companies such as itself.
The initial product portfolio that VinFast will introduce in the U.S. includes its five-passenger mid-size VF8 battery-electric SUV and a full-size six- or seven-passenger VF9 battery-electric SUV, depending on configuration. The VF8 and VF9 models will be first sold in California. The VF8 is schedule to arrive in the U.S. at the end of calendar-year 2022, while the VF9 will arrive in Q2 of calendar-year 2023. Both SUVs were designed by Pininfarina, a widely acclaimed Italian automotive design company. The VF8 and VF9 were designed from the ground up as EVs. The VinFast product portfolio will solely focus on the SUV and CUV segments.
VinFast LLC is a private automotive company that was. established in 2017 in Hanoi, Vietnam. VinFast is a member of the Vingroup conglomerate that was founded by Phạm Nhật Vượng, a serial entrepreneur and Vietnam’s first billionaire. He got his start in business in Ukraine initially selling instant noodles that expanded into a line of dehydrated culinary products, which he sold to Nestle for $150 million in 2009.
VinFast started as a manufacturer of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that were sold in Vietnam but has since transitioned to be an EV-only manufacturer, which includes both electric vehicles and electric scooters. It is also has the distinction of being the first Vietnamese-origin company to expand into global markets with its EV vehicle brand.
VinFast’s initial plans are to sell two all-electric sport/utility vehicles in the U.S. in the C and D segments. The C segment entry is a midsize SUV called the VF8 and in the D segment model will be the larger VF9 full-size SUV. VinFast will sidestep the traditional automotive dealer network in the U.S. and sell directly to consumers and fleets.
The VinFast VF8 and VF9 come in two trims, Eco and Plus, with different standard equipment levels.VinFast’s first VF8 models will be powered by batteries from South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co Ltd., but the automaker has been developing its own batteries as a hedge against potential sourcing disruptions.
VinFast will start making the batteries in August and expects to have the capacity to produce about 3,000 vehicles with its own batteries by year-end.In the U.S., VinFast has opened six showrooms in California on July 14, 2022, showcasing both the VF8 and VF9. Ultimately, VinFast plans to have 100 showrooms opened by year-end 2023. These mall stores serve multiple functions for VinFast with the ability to sell direct to consumers, along with servicing and charging VinFast vehicles in one location.
VinFast will initially sell first in California and later expand to other states.In the U.S., VinFast has formed a partnership with Electrify America, a nationwide network of approximately 800 charging stations. VF8 or VF9 customers will be able to access to the Electrify America charging network via the VinFast mobile app.
As part of its global expansion, VinFast announced at the European premiere of its VF8 and VF 9 electric vehicles at EVS35. VinFast plans to open at least 25 VinFast stores in Germany, 20 in France, and five in the Netherlands. The company also announced new sales policies exclusive to European markets, which include a premium home delivery and familiarization service. VinFast has announced that it also plans to build an assembly plant in Europe sometime in the 2024 and 2025 timeframe, but, as of press time, the location has not been announced. In Europe, VinFast will build two electric SUVs, the VF6 (A segment) and VF7 (B segment), both of which debuted at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2022.
North Carolina Assembly Plant
Starting in 2024, the VF8 and VF9 models will be assembled at VinFast’s new assembly plant in Chatham County, North Carolina. The assembly plant will be the company’s first facility outside Vietnam. The North Carolina plant will have an annual production capacity of 150,000 units. The plan is to have both the five-passenger mid-size VF8 and seven-passenger VF9 full-size vehicles rolling off the assembly lines when the plant opens in 2024. The company intends to invest up to $2 billion in phase 1 of the Chatham County project and plans to hire as many as 7,500 workers during a first phase of the project. Chatham County will provide as much as $400 million in local incentives. This will be North Carolina’s first automotive plant and second electric battery plant. In addition, there are four other pre-existing vehicle assembly operations in the region – Volvo Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Mack Trucks, and Thomas Built Buses. Toyota announced in December 2021 that it would invest $1.29 billion in the company’s first North American electric vehicle battery plant not far from the VinFast assembly plant location.
Assessing the VF8
The VF8 is positioned at the heart of the crossover/SUV segment, with a low, sloping roofline that tapers back to a powered lift gate. The all-wheel-drive VinFast VF8 is a five-door SUV. It has a 116.1-inch wheelbase and overall length of 187 inches.
The VF8 has an electric motor at each axle. Combined output of these two motors is 402 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque.Integrated into the floorboard of the VF8 chassis is a lithium-ion battery pack, from Samsung. It has an estimated range of 316 miles. VinFast says the VF8 can charge from 10% to 70% capacity in roughly 24 minutes with the standard battery, while the extended-range unit takes seven minutes longer at 31 minutes. The VF8 features two rows of seats with seating for five, while the VF9 will feature three rows. Like the VF8, the VinFast VF9 features an all-wheel-drive electric powertrain with front and rear electric motors. The motors are the same in both vehicles, generating a combined 402 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque.
The transmission in both the VF8 and VF9 is controlled via buttons on the center console.Both the Eco and Plus models are available with one of two traction battery options: “standard range,” with 82 kW-hour usable, or “extended range,” with 87.7 kW-hour usable. The estimated range depends on the powertrain and battery combination, ranging from 248 miles for “Plus, standard range” to 292 miles for the “Eco, extended range.” Safety features include 11 airbags, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.
The VF8’s warranty lasts 10 years or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first. Most services, says VinFast, will be completed by mobile techs at customer homes. VinFast anticipates 95% of service can be done remotely, with the remaining 5% of maintenance/repair operations requiring a chassis lift.
Innovative Battery Lease Package
Unlike other EVs in the U.S., VinFast has a unique business model in which buyers pay one price for the vehicle, but then lease the battery for a monthly fee. However, VinFast will offer a traditional “battery inclusive” pricing option for fleets.For non-fleet customers, VinFast offers two battery-subscription plans, costing anywhere from $35 to $160 a month, depending on how much the owner wants to drive, the model purchased, and the type of battery.
There are two battery pricing structures for both models; the flexible plan for more occasional drivers and an unlimited fixed plan for heavier users. This subscription plan lasts for the life of the VF8 and VF9. The fee includes maintenance of the battery and battery replacement when charging capacity drops below 70% of its original capacity.VinFast has said the battery leasing model brings the upfront price of its vehicles down $15,000 to $20,000, roughly on par with what many gasoline-powered models sell for today. The company also says the battery leasing program eliminates risks for the consumer because the service covers all repairs, maintenance, and replacement costs, including swapping out the battery for a newer one.
Another feature to the battery leasing program is that it is transferable to the second owner and the battery itself comes with a lifetime guarantee. The entry-level VF8 battery lease has a monthly mileage limit of 310 miles. Going over this limit will cost 11 cents for every additional mile driven. VinFast also offers an unlimited mileage battery lease for $110 per month.
The VF8 seats five with folding rear seats that allow it to carry business materials such as point of sale displays or sample merchandise.
There is a prominent center stack, which includes a large 15.6-inch infotainment touchscreen.
One unique feature to the VF8’s interior is that there’s no instrument cluster in front of the driver. The traditional instrument panel has been replaced by the central multimedia screen and a head-up display projected on the windshield.That 15.6-inch touchscreen becomes the heart of the VF8. There are a handful of conventional controls but even the outside mirrors must be activated on screen, and then adjusted using steering wheel toggles. You can use touch or a voice-controlled operating system by saying, “Hey, VinFast” and giving an instruction. VinFast signed an agreement to integrate Amazon’s Alexa into the VF8 and VF9. VinFast says it has plans to offer an extensive array of additional features that can be accessed via the infotainment system.
Full-Size VF9 SUV
The VinFast VF9 is a full-size crossover/SUV. The all-wheel-drive VinFast VF9 is a five-door SUV with a wheelbase of 124 inches and an overall length of 201.6 inches.The VF9 is characterized by a massive silhouette. The VF9 will accommodate a maximum of seven people on three rows of seats.The center piece of the passenger cabin is a large 15.6-inch touch screen displaying not only the multimedia system indications but also the onboard computer and speedometer information, which has been integrated with the instrument cluster.The full-color heads-up display technology projects onto the windshield that tracks the vehicle’s essential information while ensuring the driver keeps his or her eyes on the road.