Vietnamese carmaker VinFast plans to head to US market, starting with two electric crossovers – TechCrunch

VinFast, the Vietnamese automaker under Vingroup, was one of LA Auto Show’s numerous newcomers this year with the goal of making an impression on consumers.

The company showed two completely electric crossovers at the fair. And like so many new players in the automotive industry – or in VinFast’s case, new in the US – the vehicles are not yet in production.

VinFast shared few details about the specifications for the vehicles to be unveiled in the US by the end of 2022. Visitors to the show could sign up via Typeform to be among the first to “experience” the vehicles and indicate buying interest.

“Right now we want people to sign up. So we want to og gather and build the database so we know where the customers are, you know who is interested. And then we want to keep them updated on the progress that the products and the service here we will offer, VinFast US CEO Van Anh Nguyen said in an interview with TechCrunch on Thursday.

Interested customers can deposit $ 500 to reserve their favorite vehicle in one of eight colors in the first quarter of 2022. According to Nguyen, when the vehicles become available a few months later, interested customers can test drive and decide , whether they want to convert that deposit into a purchase. While specifications and details are thin, VinFast seems to be moving fast with plans to enter the US market.

A factory, headquarters and 60 stores

VinFast’s plans for the United States go far beyond selling some electric crossovers. The company announced ambitious plans to invest more than $ 200 million to open a U.S.-based headquarters in Los Angeles. The company also plans to open more than 60 points of sale, more service centers and some mobile service points by 2022. A factory is also on the list, although it is only scheduled to open in the second half of 2024.

It is a rapid rise for VinFast, which will require significant capital and staff.

Nguyen has been in the states for only 14 months, she said, working to put together the team that will bring VinFast models to the U.S. market. However, she will not say where this production facility may be located.

VinFast also recently told Reuters that the company plans to list on the US stock market in the next few years.

While other Asian carmakers such as Korean-owned Hyundai and Kia and Japanese-owned Toyota, Subaru and Mazda have all cracked the US market, VinFast is the first Vietnamese company to have made the attempt. Chinese companies like BYD have tried and failed to break into the US market.

What is VinFast?

VinFast is part of Vingroup, a private Vietnamese conglomerate started in 1993 that deals with everything from real estate and hospitality to industry, technology and even education.

VinFast, the automotive industry, announced its first vehicles with internal combustion engines at the Paris Motor Show in 2018, a pair of luxury sedans that used BMW engines. They quickly followed up with the launch of a range of e-scooters, Lux SUVs and cars specifically for the Vietnamese market. Within a year, the company says their vehicles became the fastest selling in Vietnam.

Just this year, the company launched an all-electric bus and several scooters in Vietnam, as well as the two SUVs it pulled off the cover at the LA Auto Show on Wednesday, VinFast VFe35 and VFe36, which the company says will be global vehicles. In many ways, VinFast is similar to a Hyundai group, as the car industry makes up a very small part of the other main stores.

Vingroup also owns VinAI, which according to a small display next to the two new SUVs VinFast unveiled at the show, is a separate legal entity working on what appears to be an in- car AI that can track your movements in the driver’s seat to determine if you are alert, looking at your phone or drowsy. The system also uses sensors and cameras to detect obstacles such as pedestrians and scooters outside the vehicle and help avoid crashes.

Two electric SUVs for the global market

VinFast VFe35 and VFe36, both electric vehicles, will be built in VinFast’s massive, 90% automated production facilities in Vietnam. The two vehicles are designed in collaboration with the car brand Pininfarina. That name probably sounds familiar – Pininfarina is known for designing classic Ferraris as well as the Pininfarina Battista, an electric sports car that costs $ 2 million.

VinFast said the SUVs will be able to travel about 300 miles on a single charge, though it did not reveal any charging or capacity details on Wednesday. Nguyen added that there will be two versions of each vehicle, the Eco and Plus models. She said the VFe35 will have a range of around 285 miles in the Eco model and 310 miles in the Plus model. The larger VFe36 Eco model will get about 310 miles, and the Plus will get about 420 miles of range, she said.

The two SUVs on stage at the LA Auto Show are both prototypes, and the specification sheet shows that the VFe35 and VFe36 prototypes appear to have 402 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque, a range of airbags, a virtual assistant, “remote control VinFast App, ”an e-commerce service, video games, in-car office and something called location-based and behavioral advertising.

Nguyen said VinFast works closely with a number of partners. Although she did not want to disclose the battery supplier, she said the cells are from a “very, very famous company.”

The battery packs are made at VinFast’s plant in Vietnam. “We have also worked closely with our battery partners like ProLogium and few others,” she added. “We have selected very good and experienced partners in battery technology.”

ProLogium is a solid-state battery manufacturer based in Taiwan.

VinFast says the two vehicles will feature a suite of standard advanced driver assistance systems, a full-color head-up display and a 15.5-inch touch screen that can be changed to display your favorite image in “zen mode” with a swipe of your finger.

We were not allowed to open the doors of any of the vehicles on the floor at the LA Auto Show. The smaller VFe35 had what appeared to be a real interior, but no digital cluster in front of the steering wheel, while the VFe36 had no interior.

VinFast only plans to sell electric vehicles in the United States, and its fast four-year path to automotive production is almost unheard of in the automotive industry. The company said vehicle deliveries will start by the end of 2022. We’ll have to wait until next year to see how it all shakes out.

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