VinFast is celebrating the arrival of its first electric vehicle on U.S. shores, the VF 8 midsize crossover. But it's also getting pushback for introducing a $56,700 vehicle with just 179 miles of battery range.
And that's not all of its struggles.
The Vietnamese automaker, which moved quickly into the U.S. after first showing the VF 8 in 2021, is also facing headwinds after last year's Inflation Reduction Act removed the $7,500 EV tax credit for vehicles made outside North America.
And one of the brand's key selling points, a battery-leasing model that reduces the purchase price but adds complexity, hasn't received much traction. The base VF 8 can now be bought with the battery, starting at $56,700 including shipping. The battery lease requires a monthly payment tied to miles driven.
The newcomer brand has received about 12,000 U.S. reservations for the VF 8 and its larger three-row VF 9 crossover, a company representative said. Deliveries of the handsomely styled VF 9 are expected to start in the second quarter.
To be sure, it's early in the game for VinFast, which made its first combustion vehicles for the Vietnamese market in 2019 and only began making EVs in 2021. The automaker is moving forward to build an assembly plant in North Carolina and is developing two smaller electric crossovers for North America. It has also filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. to fund its international expansion.
"I think there's enough room for lots of players to be a contributor to green mobility," VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said last month on the "Driving with Dunne" podcast. "We would like to be one of them."
Thuy told host Michael Dunne, CEO of consultancy ZoZoGo, that VinFast had opened 10 showrooms in California, its first U.S. market, and is interested in expanding next to the East Coast.