It's a brutal time to be introducing an electric vehicle brand from scratch in the U.S. Beyond the reservations some Americans still have with EVs, the increasingly crowded market has been roiled by surging raw material outlays, software bugs, and more recently vehicle price cuts and hikes, giving some consumers more pause and whiplash.
VinFast, the startup EV maker from Vietnam, is having a go at it and has begun leasing a electric crossover in the U.S.
The company's initial crossover is a limited version — the VF 8 City Edition — and available only as part of a $399-per-month lease, cut from $599 per month in February.
The VF 8, imported from Vietnam, is only eligible for a federal tax credit as a lease vehicle because of new incentive rules, and VinFast said the promotion was conceived "to stay competitive with other brands."
The VF 8 City Edition has a starting price of $50,200 with shipping.
Every VF 8 features dual motors and all-wheel drive, with Eco versions generating 348 hp and 369 pound-feet of toque and Plus versions getting 402 hp and 457 lb-ft. VinFast said those performance specs are good enough for the VF 8 to zip from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 to 6.5 seconds.
The VF 8 City Edition comes equipped with a relatively large 82-kilowatt-hour battery. A newer trim of the crossover, the VF 8 Standard Edition, comes with a bigger 87-kWh battery and will be delivered in June.
Still, the launch edition of the VF 8 has a limited range compared with similar EVs. The Eco trim has 207 miles of range and the Plus edition has 191 miles, VinFast said. Most competitors have around 250 miles of range and some have more than 300 miles, including the Tesla Model Y.
Filling the 87-kWh battery in the VF 8 to 70 percent from 10 percent will take about 24 minutes of charging time, the company said. VinFast also provides lessees the option of a free home charger in addition to a $1,000 credit for installation or three years of unlimited free charging at eligible public networks.
We've rounded up some early reviews of the VF 8.