Electric car: Vietnamese Vinfast will build a giant factory in the United States

It is at a glance that Vinfast has chosen to internationalize. A Vietnamese carmaker, created in 2017, has just announced that it will invest up to $ 2 billion in North Carolina. This high-stakes arrival on American soil – after a presentation at CES in Las Vegas in January – is less the style of a start-up than that of Vingroup, the conglomerate to which it is affiliated and which extends from from real estate to education and distribution.

The site will cover 800 hectares. They are 500 more than the Gigafactory that Tesla recently opened in Berlin and more than five times the project of Renault and Verkor, one of the spearheads of future electricity production in France. The Vietnamese group’s factory will be divided into three areas: production lines and assembly of its electric cars and buses, manufacture of electric batteries and related activities, managed by suppliers.

150,000 cars a year

Construction of phase 1 of the plant is expected to begin this year after the building permit is obtained. The first “made in the USA” Vinfast will go out of line in July 2024. From this “phase 1”, the manufacturer expects a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year. This is a level that Tesla took six years to reach, with the arrival of the Model 3.

“Having a production plant directly on the market [américain] will help Vinfast proactively manage its supply chain, maintain stable prices and shorten delivery times, making Vinfast electric vehicles more accessible to customers, ”CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said in a statement.

Satisfied with Joe Biden

With 7,500 jobs at stake, according to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, the project was welcomed by the U.S. president. The factory “follows in the footsteps of recent announcements from other companies such as GM, Ford and Siemens, which are re-investing in the United States and creating jobs there,” Joe Biden said in a message to AFP. White House.

In Vietnam, the manufacturer has not skimped on media either. Its $ 4.4 billion, 335-hectare factory in Haiphong, in the north of the country, is ultra-automated and can produce up to 300,000 vehicles a year and 500,000 scooters. Vinfast offers thermal vehicles in its catalog, but it is with the electric that attacks the American market. Vingroup recently began construction of a battery factory in Ha Tinh, Vietnam, on an 8-hectare site with a capacity of 5 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.

Two premium electric SUVs

The American factory Vinfast must also act as a showcase for Vietnamese industry internationally. Some will draw parallels with the Korean Hyundai of the 1990s. Unless Vinfast is attacking the premium. To reassure Western customers, the design was commissioned by a certain Pininfarina. The high level of finish required will await the first tests.

Two models, now available for pre-order, will be produced in North Carolina. The VF 8, a five-seater electric SUV in the D-segment (like the Audi Q5). At just over $ 50,000, excluding battery rental, it sells as an “accessible prize.” And the VF 9, a seven-seater E-segment SUV (like the Audi Q7) at $ 70,000, its “flagship.”

Showroom in Paris

In its domestic market, Vinfast sold 35,723 vehicles in 2021, an increase of 21.2% in one year. However, the manufacturer saw an acceleration in sales in December (3,047 units), the first month of sales of its VF e34 electric model. But it is with its two new electric SUVs that it really aims to accelerate commercially. It will also rely on its VF 5 city car and, in 2023, other SUVs (6 and 7) that complete the range.

Internationally, Vinfast has already opened pre-orders in the United States, Canada and Europe (Germany, the Netherlands and France). Like many new electric players who want to export, the start-up is betting on online sales. And the showrooms. In France, Vinfast will open its own in mid-2022, near the Madeleine in Paris. About a hundred meters from Tesla.

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