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Vietnam’s VinFast joins EV markets in North America, Europe
Labourers work in VinFast's factory in Hai Phong in northern Vietnam in April 2021. Photo: Thanh Hue/ Reuters.

Young Vietnamese carmaker is hoping to sell thousands of cars in the US next year through online sales outlets and a battery-leasing scheme

 

(AF) Vietnam’s first domestic carmaker, Vinfast, is betting that it can break into the US electric vehicle market, which is due to get a big boost from the Biden Administration’s multi-billion-dollar outlay on EV infrastructure such as charging stations.

Vinfast, a unit of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup, said on Monday it has opened offices in North America and Europe and plans to have showrooms in California in the near future to woo customers with its “smart” electric cars.

VinFast became the country’s first fully-fledged domestic car manufacturer when its gasoline-powered models built under its own badge hit the streets in 2019.

The company, which achieved annual sales of around 30,000 units last year in Vietnam, has yet to make a profit, but it appears to have made a good start – in March, news emerged that Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn had proposed acquiring the company’s EV production line. The two companies were in early stage talks about a partnership to produce electric vehicles.

VinFast has set up representative offices in five international markets and will soon open showrooms in California,” Vingroup announced on Monday.

VinFast USA’s CEO has already relocated to the US from Vietnam recently,” the company added.

The company had set a target of selling 56,000 electric vehicles in 2022, but scaled that back to 15,000 units due to the global chip shortage, Vingroup’s chairman Pham Nhat Vuong told the company’s annual meeting in June.

In an interview in April, the CEO of VinFast USA said they were betting on a battery leasing scheme and planning on conducting most of its US sales online, removing the need for a costly dealership network.

The company said two electric car models, the VF e35 and VF e36, would be officially launched in March next year.

To support its growth, VinFast will need more cash. It flagged in April that it would consider an initial public offering in the United States or merger with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company.

However, sources told Reuters in May VinFast‘s offering, which was slated for the second quarter and could help the company raise at least $2 billion, faced a delay.

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration is reportedly aiming to spend $174 billion on infrastructure for electric vehicles under  its $2.5 trillion plan to transform transportation in the US.

With reporting by Reuters.

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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