Vietnamese automaker VinFast has yet to deliver its first electric vehicle to U.S. customers but is already cutting staff and prices amid competition from rivals such as Tesla and Ford, which have trimmed prices on their popular EVs.
The Asian newcomer, however, is not giving up on the North American market despite starting off on the wrong foot.
VinFast announced it has chosen U.S. Bank as its preferred provider for vehicle finance and leasing. The deal comes as the automaker is preparing to open more showrooms in California, followed by an expansion to other regions of the country.
"With the goal to make electric vehicles accessible to everyone, VinFast is constantly looking for optimal solutions for customers," Le Thi Thu Thuy, CEO of VinFast Holdings, said in a statement Monday. "Thanks to this agreement, VinFast customers will have access to competitive finance and lease rates and world-class customer service."
But drumming up vehicle buyers remains a challenge for the brand, which is virtually unknown in North America. VinFast has about 12,000 U.S. reservations for its VF 8 and VF 9 electric crossovers, the company said last month.
The two-row VF 8 was the first to arrive on U.S. shores, in December, but deliveries of the first batch of 999 vehicles have been delayed until the second half of February in order to update software, VinFast said.
In the meantime, Tesla cut prices for its Model Y crossover in mid-January, to $56,630 with shipping, and Ford followed suit with its Mustang Mach-E, reducing the sticker to $47,495 with shipping. Those price cuts come on top of a new $7,500 federal tax incentive for EVs made in North America. VinFast's imported vehicles don't qualify, putting the newcomer at a disadvantage on price, brand recognition and key features.
VinFast is offering a lease deal on the VF 8 that cuts the $56,700 starting price to $50,200. Both prices include shipping. But the debut model has just 207 miles of range — on the low end compared with rivals at a similar price point.