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A new challenger in the all-electric vehicle market brought its wares to the 2022 LA Auto Show. VinFast has its sights set on Tesla, Rivian, and other premium brands by offering a pair of battery-powered midsize SUVs. On their own, these vehicles might not merit much more than a casual shrug. Rather, it’s the company itself and a unique marketing strategy that has us taking notice.
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VinFast will be the first Vietnamese automaker to sell cars in the US, as well as several other global markets. The company was founded in June 2017, with their first production facility near the northern city of Hai Phong going from groundbreaking to completed in less than two years. Officials quickly cultivated relationships with suppliers and other automakers, the most notable being General Motors, who gave VinFast exclusive rights to distribute Chevrolet vehicles in Vietnam.
While the automaker hit a few stumbling blocks as a result of the COVID pandemic, in March 2022, officials announced that they would build a $2 billion assembly plant in Chatham County, North Carolina. The factory would have an initial capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year when it comes online in 2024 with future expansion possible. Later that summer saw the grand openings six US showrooms at various shopping centers in California.
The first VinFast vehicles to reach customers will be the five-passenger VF 8 and seven-seat VF 9. Each will come in base Eco and uplevel Plus trims in Standard and Enhanced range variants. All-wheel drive from a pair of electric motors will be standard. While the designs of these vehicles look quite premium, pricing will be closer to that of EVs from mainstream brands. The VF 8 will span $40,700-$48,000, 348-402 horsepower, and 248-292 miles of estimated driving range. The VF 9 will have 402 horsepower across the board, estimated ranges of 262-369 miles, and pricing from $55,000-$61,000.
Where the company hopes to stand out is in its battery leasing program. In addition to the cost of the vehicle, customers will pay an additional $169-$219 per month for the battery. This fee will cover any associated maintenance as well as replacement when the pack’s usable capacity drops below 70 percent. For the rest of the vehicle, VinFast is pledging up to 10 years and 125,000 miles of warranty coverage.
The first VF 8 and VF 9 delivers are scheduled for December 2022.
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EV startups are starting to feel like a dime a dozen these days. VinFast is hoping to distinguish itself by offering a premium-looking/feeling product while giving customers a bit of extra assurance that they won’t be hit with a massive bill to maintain or replace the battery pack. While we can’t comment on the former, the latter is an interesting, albeit risky idea. If the company manages to be successful, the subscription model could pave the way for other automakers to follow suit. If not, the people who did take the risk could have forked out potentially a lot of extra cash for nothing. We hope to have the opportunity to sample one of these new EVs in the not-too-distant future.
2023 VinFast VF 8 and VF 9 Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.
2023 VinFast VF 8
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2023 VinFast VF 8