Vietnam-based VinFast made a splash at CES 2022 when the company not only revealed its full lineup of EV vehicles but also confirmed that it will be building a battery cell plant in the U.S. which will not only help bring new jobs but also allow VinFast to secure a key step in its ongoing efforts towards entering the U.S. market.
A Gasoline Free VinFast
A big slice of news that the company revealed right out the gate is that the young company will have a lineup free of gasoline-powered models by the end of the year. VinFast (part of the larger VinGroup) first made its debut in Vietnam in 2019 and used gasoline-powered offerings to help shore up its presence while also building an initial pool of capital.
This abrupt change is risky, but it will help the company achieve two goals at once. The main one is to give it a head start on any emissions-related regulations in key market regions especially its home market of Vietnam. A secondary benefit is that it will offer an easier route of entry into the U.S. market. The U.S. has vastly different emissions regulations and none of VinFast’s current engine offerings would have passed current emission regulations. However, switching to an all-electric powertrain, eliminates some of these hurdles and as a result, VinFast will not have to worry about engineering specific components just to comply with market exclusive rules.
Two EV SUVs will Headline U.S. Shores
VinFast already started selling EVs in Vietnam, but U.S. buyers will initially have a choice of two SUVs. The first of these will be the full-sized VF9 which will have a base price of $56,000 before any fees or green credits are factored into the mix. The VF9’s boxy shape and its length drive home the point that it will be a three-row SUV with the dashboard featuring a large infotainment screen that’s on par with what we have seen from Rivian and Tesla. The VF9 also boasts potent performance but we’ll have to wait until VinFast produces a roadgoing prototype to see just how potent it is.
Meanwhile, the VF8 is the mid-size SUV in the family with the model being a two-row offering. The VF8 competes in the same segment as the Ford Edge and will arrive with a base price of $41,000. The front fascia is a much more expressive indicator of the company’s design language moving forward with the front fascia featuring wing-shaped headlights and a panel that’s mounted where a traditional grille would be. Like its bigger partner in crime, VinFast didn’t reveal too much information about the VF8. What’s known is that the SUV is capable of producing over 402 hp and achieving a range of 316 miles between charges. Look for the VF8 to be the mass market-oriented model of the bunch and it will, for now, serve as the entry-level model here until the rest of the lineup makes the trip over.
Unanswered Questions Remain
While VinFast has done a good job promoting and making waves with its early moves, there are still some unanswered questions that need to be answered. A prominent one is the novel battery leasing program that VinFast has been touting. The company confirmed that customers will pay a monthly fee for using the battery (still scratching our heads on that one) but it’s not known how the payment process will work and how much it will ultimately cost consumers.
We also have questions about when formal U.S. sales will begin and how many VinFast dealerships will be available nationwide. The company is not letting that stop them though and revealed that it will be offering a lucrative set of perks for those that choose to reserve a VF8 or VF9. Pay the initial $200 fee, and the company will give buyers an e-voucher that’s good for $3,000 on a VF8 and $5,000 on a VF9. Things get stranger from here with the company even throwing in an NFT (the first EV company to do such a thing) as well as a trip to any VinGroup hotel in Vietnam.
While the NFT is a very interesting curveball perk, VinFast will undoubtedly be a company to keep an eye on especially if it can get the remaining pieces into place for its U.S. arrival. Vinfast will have an uphill battle on its hands as it faces off against established names like Tesla and Rivian but the company’s marketing and the unique perks for new buyers might be able to help give it the momentum it needs to succeed in the long haul.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.