Vietnam’s VinFast Plans $2bn EV factory in US


Vinfast, a unit of Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup, said it plans total investment in its first US factory, in North Carolina, to eventually double to $4bn.

 

Vietnam’s automaker VinFast said it has signed a preliminary deal to initially invest $2 billion to build a factory in the US state of North Carolina to make electric vehicles (EVs), including buses and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) along with batteries.

The unit of Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup said it plans to have a total investment of $4 billion in its first US factory complex.

Construction should begin this year as soon as the company gets necessary permits, and is expected to finish by July 2024. The plant’s initial capacity will be 150,000 units per year, VinFast said.

“With a manufacturing facility right in the US market, VinFast can stabilise prices and shorten product delivery time, making our EVs more accessible to customers,” Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup vice chair and VinFast Global chief executive, said.

VinFast has begun taking pre-orders globally for two electric SUVs with a goal to begin delivering them in the fourth quarter.

US President Joe Biden said the VinFast investment, which will create more than 7,000 jobs, is “the latest example of my economic strategy at work”.

“It builds on recent announcements from companies like GM, Ford, and Siemens to invest in America again and create jobs,” said Biden, who set an ambitious goal for half of new car sales to be electric by 2030.

This will be North Carolina’s first car plant and it is the largest economic development announcement in the state’s history, the governor’s office said in a statement.

 

Production is Hard

VinFast said US prices for its VF8 sport SUV would start from $41,000. By comparison, a Tesla SUV sells for about $63,000. VinFast is targeting global EV sales of 42,000 this year.

VinFast is betting big on the US market, where it hopes to compete with legacy automakers and startups with affordable electric SUVs and a battery leasing model.

Other electric vehicle startups such as Rivian and Lucid have slashed their production targets this year due to supply chain disruptions caused by coronavirus, which hit their share prices.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last year: “It’s insanely difficult to reach volume production at affordable unit cost.”

VinFast, which became Vietnam’s first fully fledged domestic car manufacturer in 2019, plans to transition to all-electric vehicle production from late 2022.

Outside of North America, the company is also looking for a plant in Germany, it said in January.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean OMeara

 

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Sean OMeara

Sean O’Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.