“There’s no secret,” Emmanuel Bret, VinFast Deputy CEO of Global Sales and Marketing, says. “It’s a total commitment to change the world.”
Bret was making his remarks in a small room off the main floor of the New York International Auto Show, back in 2022 for the first time since 2019, because of a long pandemic layoff. I had asked, admittedly, a bit of a softball question, which was how the hell was VinFast working so, well, fast. They said last month that they would be building a factory in North Carolina, which Bret said would be done by 2024. That is just over a year after the Vietnamese automaker announced that it would be coming to the U.S., and just under three years since VinFast began producing cars period. Earlier this year, meanwhile, it said it was going all-electric.
In New York on Wednesday, Bret said that the first deliveries in the U.S. would come later this year. VinFast will start here with the VF9, a full-size electric SUV, and the VF8, a midsize electric SUV, with a focus on California, where the automaker will also open 30 stores and sell direct.
EV startups almost never work this quickly. Consider that Lucid was founded in 2007 and only began mass manufacturing EVs fairly recently and that it took Tesla almost a decade to make the Model S. Consider, also, the fallen or near fallen or never really were, like Byton, Faraday Future, Lordstown Motors, etc.
“We are really committed to doing it faster,” Bret says. “We are proving it. It’s not just to say. We are proving it with the factory in Vietnam. We are proving it with a new factory in the U.S. We prove it with the product. We will deliver the first two cars at the end of this year.”
That would be the VF8 and VF9, which will be imported to the U.S. from Vietnam before the U.S. plant gets up and running. VinFast says that VF9 will get up to 369 miles of range, while the VF8 will get up to 292 miles, both as judged by the WLPT standard. The VF9 will start at $55,000, while the VF8 will start at $40,700, with both cars presumably eligible for the federal tax credit. That is in addition to a mandatory subscription that will cost between $110 and $160 per month. The VF7 and VF6, smaller electric EVs, will come next year, likely with smaller prices, too, Bret says.
It is clear that Tesla is in VinFast’s sights, but so are the legacy automakers that make EVs. As far as charging, VinFast announced an agreement on Wednesday with Electrify America, which has thousands of charging units. Bret resists defining VinFasts as luxury or not.
“We produce premium cars for everyone. We want VinFast for everyone,” Bret says. “We are [different than Tesla.]”
Like Tesla, batteries are a focus of VinFast, which will make its own, and plans to make batteries in North Carolina, too. Bret says that if anything is wrong with the battery, VinFast will swap it for free; they will also swap it for free if its capacity drops below 70 percent.
What’s next, in any case, is execution, the hardest step there is for EV startups. VinFast says it is full speed ahead.
“We’re so serious about this,” Bret says.