Vietnamese automaker VinFast is offering a sizable bonus to U.S. buyers willing to make a small deposit while they wait for their electric crossovers to arrive, presumably by the end of the year.
The VinFirst early-bird program requires a refundable $200 reservation payment by April 5 in exchange for a $3,000 voucher on the price of a future, two-row VF 8 crossover.
VinFast announced at CES on Wednesday that pricing for the VF 8 would start at $41,000 excluding the battery, which must be leased. Pricing for the three-row VF 9 crossover will start at $56,000, also excluding the battery.
Both vehicles were shown in concept form at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. VinFast said at the auto show that it expects to deliver the vehicles to U.S. customers sometime in 2022.
The same $200 early-bird deposit on the VF 9 is worth a $5,000 voucher when converting the reservation to a formal order closer to launch. VinFast has set up its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles.
"We hope that our exclusive program VinFirst — 'Pioneer's Gratitude to Pioneers' — will be seen as a meaningful gift for our first customers at the beginning of a new, exciting year," CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said at CES. She also is vice chair of conglomerate Vingroup.
The automaker, which only started selling internal-combustion vehicles domestically in 2019, announced at the Las Vegas tech show that it plans to go all-electric by the end of 2022.
VinFast also took the wraps off three additional EV models — all smaller crossovers — but didn't provide any specifications, pricing or future availability information.
Members of the VinFirst early-bird program also receive a free portable EV charger, a free upgrade to advanced driver-assistance features and a free family vacation package at the conglomerate's Vinpearl hotels in Vietnam.
The package is good for four people for seven days in a three-bedroom beach villa but does not include airfare, VinFast said in a statement.
VinFast said on its reservation website that the VF 8 will have 402 horsepower and accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. The automaker estimates the 5-seat crossover’s range at 316.9 miles, based on the WLTP standard used in Europe. The EPA range test in the U.S. generally results in lower numbers than the WLTP test.
The three-row VF 9 has the same horsepower as its smaller sibling and VinFast estimates acceleration to 60 mph at 6.5 seconds. Range is estimated at 422.5 miles on the WLTP test. The large crossover can be configurated with 6 or 7 seats, the automaker said. VinFast said it’s targeting 5-star safety ratings from the U.S. NHTSA safety agency.
The higher-trim models of the VinFast EVs push the prices up modestly.
The VF 8 Plus starts at $48,000 excluding shipping, and the VF 9 Plus starts at $61,000, the company said. The base Eco model and the higher Plus were the only trims listed on a VinFast press release detailing vehicle pricing. Both can be optioned with an advanced driver assistance and “smart service” package for $6,500 or through a $135 monthly subscription.
VinFast did not provide pricing for the battery lease program in the U.S.