The Vietnamese electric vehicle company wants to take on Tesla and other big U.S. carmakers. VinFast launched its first models in 2018 at the Paris Motor Show. It was awarded ‘A Star is Born’ by AUTOBEST. The following year it launched three car models in the Vietnam market. Its cars became best sellers in three segments in the country. Then, in 2021, VinFast announced two all-electric premium SUVs for the global market: VF8 and VF9. In 2022, international pre-orders were open for these vehicles, and showrooms in the U.S. and Canada opened. Global deliveries also started in 2022.
VinFast isn’t the first EV start-up to launch that wanted to take on Tesla. Canoo may be one of the most notable ones because Apple reportedly considered buying it in 2020. Lucid Motors is another one that wants to compete with Tesla. It’s more on the luxury end, but Elon Musk’s company has taken note by benchmark testing the Lucid Air. Finally, Rivian has already aligned itself as a competitor to Tesla. Its R1S SUV and the R1T pickup truck will compete with the Cybertruck when it eventually goes into production. Though Rivian has been around since 2009, it didn’t get its name until 2011. As a result, it doesn’t feel as much like a start-up as the others.
According to CNBC, VinFast’s founder, Pham Nhat Vuong, “made his first fortune in dried ramen noodles and has since become Vietnam’s richest person and owner of Vingroup, the country’s largest conglomerate.” In 2021, his company made about $5.4 billion in sales. Vingroup owns various businesses, including educational institutions, shopping centers and housing developments, and made “Vietnam’s first locally produced smartphone.” He’s undoubtedly comparable to Musk. However, Vuong only recently got into EVs. Vice President of Global Vehicle Forecasting for AutoForecast, Sam Fiorani, believes Vuong’s goal is to get Vietnam on the world stage. He said, “most countries that want to reach that level have an automotive manufacturer.” VinFast even has people who previously worked at BMW employed. So, it’s starting right, but competing against Tesla and other major car brands is no easy feat.
VinFast has two models, the VF8, a mid-size eSUV, and the VF9, a full-size eSUV. The VF8 has a range of 292 miles and starts at $40,700 with a monthly battery subscription. Compared to Tesla’s mid-size eSUV, it may be a better deal. The Model Y has a 318-mile range and a starting price of $65,990. So, while the range is better for the Model Y, the price tag is significantly more. Not worth the extra range. Price-wise, the VF8 is better compared to the Model 3, which has a 267-mile range and a starting price of $46,990. The VF9 is also a better deal than the Tesla Model X. The VF9 is much cheaper and can go further on a single charge. The VF9 has an estimated range of 369 miles, with a starting price of $55,500, with a monthly battery subscription, compared to the Model X’s 223-mile range and the $120,990 starting price.
While the prices may seem better for VinFast, it has no brand recognition in the U.S. Everyone knows Tesla. The Model 3 is the highest-rated model by consumers in the U.S. and Europe. It’s a trusted brand. In contrast, buyers won’t know what they’re getting with VinFast. The EV company’s biggest challenge will be getting consumers to know them. The cheaper price tags may help since Tesla keeps marking up their prices due to inflation and supply change shortages. It’s not out of the question that VinFast can compete. Chinese EV maker BYD just overtook Tesla for biggest EV seller. Volkswagen is trying to do the same. That just means VinFast has even more competition.