Vietnamese automaker VinFast is opening its first U.S. showrooms in California shopping centers next week on its way to 30 company-run retail locations in the state by year end.
VinFast has chosen Santa Monica, San Diego, San Mateo, Corte Madera, Commerce and Berkeley for its first six showrooms, the company said in an email invitation to ribbon-cutting events on July 14.
The automaker, which is just 5 years old and new to the EV market, also plans to break ground on a North Carolina EV factory and deliver its first vehicles before the year is out.
With its U.S. headquarters established last year in Los Angeles, VinFast has been holding events around California featuring the two-row VF 8 crossover now in development.
The automaker, which is expanding to North America and Europe after selling gasoline vehicles in its home market, delivered its first EVs in Vietnam at the end of last year. That model was smaller than the midsize VF 8 and three-row VF 9 that will launch in the U.S. and Canada.
VinFast is phasing out its gas vehicles in favor of battery-electric vehicles, which are surging in California sales. EVs took a 15 percent market share in the first quarter of the year, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.
But VinFast, part of the Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, faces stiff competition from current EV leaders such as Tesla, Ford, Hyundai Motor Group, Volkswagen and General Motors.
The newcomer says it has some advantages over its more established rivals since it aims to sell premium EVs at mostly mainstream prices. But VinFast is also an unknown brand in the U.S. with newly developed products, while competitors have been making EVs for years.