VinFast Auto is planning to show off several electric vehicles at CES it would like to see sold within the United States in the coming years. Despite the brand initially looking like another automotive startup doomed to failure, it’s managed to outlast much of the competition and continues to express a desire to break into the North American market. Its booth will reportedly include the VF8 compact crossover, boxy VF3 microcar, and a new pickup concept.
Also on display will be the full-size VF9 SUV, which the company said will integrate a new streaming service CES attendees can experience personally, and an all-new electric bike.
The Vietnamese car company has only been around since 2017. But it has been building momentum quickly thanks to being a subsidiary of the multinational concomorate Vingroup. Originally founded in Ukraine as the Technocom food processing firm in 1993, Vingroup has branched out into just about every industry relevant in Southeast Asia. It is now Vietnam’s largest corporate entity by far — with loads of global business partners, an insatiable appetite for growth, and serious political influence.
This has led to VinFast working with Chevrolet to distribute vehicles on the Vietnamese market, garnered contracts for electric buses across Asia, and very nearly led it becoming the sponsor of the inaugural edition of the Formula One Vietnamese Grand Prix before the global pandemic response. But the ultimate goal is for VinFast to become a globally recognized EV manufacturer offering competitively priced vehicles.
To that effect, the brand will be putting products on display in Las Vegas next week for CES 2024. In fact, VinFast has been pretty consistent in terms of making an appearance at the trade show over the last several years.
The company typically showcases a few key models and then makes an announcement about how it’s gradually making headway toward U.S. sales, with this year apparently being no different. Shortly after VinFast confirmed its attendance at CES, it announced that it had officially signed agreements with five dealers in four states across the country to have them play host to its products.
The first group of VinFast dealers consist of Leith VinFast (Raleigh, North Carolina), Smith Haven VinFast (St. James, New York), Principle VinFast Grapevine (Grapevine, Texas), Hiley VinFast of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, Texas), and VinFast Wichita (Wichita, Kansas). These dealers will initially begin selling the VinFast VF 8 all-electric SUV, with plans to add the VF 6, VF 7, and VF 9 models when they launch in the US market.
All VinFast customers who purchase or lease a VinFast electric vehicle are eligible for VinFast’s aftersales policies, including a 10-year/125,000-mile warranty for the vehicle and 10-year unlimited mileage for the battery under non-commercial use.
VinFast’s local branch presently operates out of California with just over a dozen dealerships and service centers on hand. But it’s plotting to expand its U.S. network to include “125 points of sale” across the country.
“This is an important step affirming VinFast’s commitment to expanding its retail sales network and shortening the time to deliver our products to market,” said Ms. Tran Mai Hoa, VinFast’s Deputy CEO of Sales and Marketing. “Collaboration with dealers allows VinFast to quickly bring US customers high quality electric vehicles, good prices and excellent aftersales policies, further promoting our mission of a sustainable future for all.”
Unfortunately for the brand, initial reviews of the VF8 were less than glowing. The car was accused of having all the modern tech inclusions people already find polarizing (touchscreen reliance, over-the-air updates, etc.) and executed them in a manner that rubbed testers the wrong way. Reviewers lambasted the vehicle’s interior and terrible suspension, with many suggesting that the car hadn’t undergone enough development to warrant public sales. We even have reports of unreliable navigation, basic controls failing, and throttle input delays that wouldn’t have been acceptable on a 40-year-old pickup.
But VinFast is still cutting its teeth and hoping customers will overlook some of that while it tries to get its ducks in a row. Still, initial impressions haven’t helped the brand in the United States and there have also been concerns that VinFast is to VinGroup what Evergrande Auto was to China’s Evergrande Group. People have grown quite skeptical about startups bankrolled by massive overseas entities and the same can be said about novice EV manufacturers following the financial shenanigans witnessed from brands like LeEco, Faraday Future, NIkola, and Lordstown Motors.
That said, VinFast has actually managed to build and sell automobiles — which is already further than most new automakers make it. It may not be fair to judge it based on industry skepticism, even if the feeling is wholly understandable. However, VinFast will absolutely need to improve its end products if it is to have any hope of being competitive in the United States.
Maybe what it’ll have on offer at CES next week will help alleviate any lingering doubts. At the very least, it’ll offer a glimpse of what might be in store for American car buyers. VinFast has also expressed its intention to sell extra-small EVs in the U.S. by way of the VF3 mini SUV, potentially cornering the sub $20,000 segment at a time when everyone is looking for what they hope will be a bargain.
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