At the dawn of automobiles, there were tremendously more brands from which to choose in America than there are today. With the rapid transition to all things electric, new companies are sprouting up faster than dandelions on your author’s lawn. Rivian, Lucid, Tesla – actually, when Tesla is the newest company in a particular group of examples, you know the landscape is changing rapidly.
Next out of the gate? A company from Vietnam called VinFast. Last night at CES, they hauled the covers off five different EVs, all of them shaped like crossovers ranging in size from S to XXL.
First, a bit of background. VinFast is an arm of Vingroup, a privately held company that’s been around since the early ’90s and has its fingers in a number of pies including the likes of hospitality and AI development. Their car-making endeavors started about four years ago with a selection of gasoline-powered vehicles, selling about 60,000 units over the last couple of years. Now, they’re switching solely to electric by the end of 2022, technically making them one of the first automakers to fully make the transition. We’ll note such a feat is easier for a low(ish) volume company than a megacompany like General Motors.
Our man Tim saw two of the VinFast efforts while attending the LA Auto Show in November. Now called the VF 8 and VF 9 – part of a fresh naming convention – these two crossover-style rigs are meant to represent the VinFast entry into the D- and E-segments of that particular market. Think of the Sorento and Telluride in Kia showrooms as rough size comparisons and you’ll get the idea.
Both are powered by twin electric motors, giving the vehicles all-wheel drive which is all but expected at this end of the scale. The larger VF 9 is a three-row SUV, good for about 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. There are two battery options, one of which is said to provide approximately 300 miles of driving range with the other rated at roughly 420 miles. If one can harness the services of a robust Level 3 charger, the VF 9 should be able to replenish its battery from 10% to 70% in about 30 minutes.
Sitting right below this vehicle is the two-row VF 8. Its dual electric motors can belt out the same amount of power as its larger brother, but the total driving range is a tad fewer thanks to a smaller space in which to stuff batteries. Long-range trims will eke out just over 300 miles from its electrons, while a less-expensive model is apparently good for roughly 285 miles.
Speaking of price, the VF 8 and VF 9 will cost $41,000 and $56,000 respectively when they show up in the hands of customers, a timeline which is planned for the latter part of 2022. Here’s the kicker – throwing down a $200 deposit between now and the end of March will net shoppers a $3,000 rebate on the VF 8 and a $5,000 kickback on the VF 9. This is an interesting approach to net a few early adopters who are seeking to keep their costs low.
There is also a battery leasing program, touted as a method in which owners will not have to worry about battery replacement when the time comes. Battery degradation happens to almost all batteries, so it’s interesting VinFast is planning for this from the outset. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out in terms of monthly payments.
The other three machines on display – the VF 5, VF 6, and VF 7 – are progressively smaller in size as their appended numbers decrease. No details were given about their power numbers of battery capacity, with VinFast execs preferring to chat about the VF 8 and VF 9 which are set for customer deliveries in this country by the end of this year. Some have already found their way into the hands of buyers in the company’s home country.
VinFast has plans to open a factory in America by 2024, one capable of churning out a quarter-million cars annually.
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