Who is Vinfast, the new electric car manufacturer coming to Europe?

If you were not present at the last Paris Motor Show in 2018, the name Vinfast may not mean anything to you. On this occasion, Vinfast was born, a new manufacturer from a new car country, Vietnam.† On his stand were two models stamped on the calendar of a big V with footballer David Beckam as ambassador. Among the flashes, a large sedan and an imposing SUV, both based on BMW platforms, showed their fairly modern lines, designed by Pininfarina. The ambition then was to offer models with top functions at competitive prices and to distribute them in the main world markets. With the Covid 19 pandemic and the switch to electric, they haven’t arrived in our markets, and Vinfast has since changed its plans. The brand will not come definitively in Europe and here at the end of 2022 with 100% electrically christened VF9 and VF8, SUVs that are a bit big for us at 5.12 m and 4.75 m. Then in 2023 will come the zero-emission VF7 compact SUV and small VF6 SUV, as the brand has decided to launch by the end of 2022 all are thermals stop, ie the two BMW-based models, as well as the Fadil, a restyled Opel Karl manufactured since 2019. Vietnamese.

Vingroup present everywhere!

So will we have to trust this new car player? That’s the whole question. To answer them, we spent a few days with Vinfast’s strategic and technical leaders. Note that the new brand is the automotive branch of the giant Vietnamese group Vingroup, whose activities in Ukraine started in 1993 with instant noodles† Since then, the group, more or less directly supported by the state, which sees it as a banner of modern Vietnam, has diversified into multiple areas and has 48 subsidiaries: schools, universities, hospitals, real estate, pharmacy, agricultural production, convenience stores, fashion items, Internet access and mobile telephony, amusement parks, seaside resorts, mobile phones, etc.In short, Vingroup is present in almost all areas of Vietnamese daily life and seems to want to expand its playing field internationally with Vinfast.

If Mrs. Le Thi Thu Thuy, CEO of Vinfast and number 2 of Vingroup, is asked why Europeans would buy the Vietnamese models, she answers confidently “We see a great need for electric cars in Europe, but there is not enough supply. So we are confident that our cars, which will offer premium quality at mass market prices, will be very successful. Especially because they are guaranteed for 10 years or 200,000 km.” If we can discuss the argument “insufficient supply in Europe”Vinfast has tangible assets to balance to reassure prospective customers.

Major roads

First of all, the car brand is supported by a solid group, endowed with great investment capacities. Vinfast already has its own factory in Vietnam, for which BMW, the first partner, has taught them a lot, both about the processes and the structure of suppliers. More than 100,000 vehicles have already been built there, even if they are mainly thermal and electric scooters, and a few hundred electric buses† In order to learn very quickly, both when designing and developing its models, Vinfast relies on experts in all fields, such as Tata, AVL, ZF, Bosch, Faurecia or major subcontractors of car manufacturers. And Vinfast decided to build its own battery factory in Vietnam, aiming to produce 100,000 batteries per year (cars and buses). Finally, the Asian manufacturer plans to build a second assembly plant in the US in 2024, for another in Europe later, probably in Germany. So big ambitions.

Too fast too hard?

At the other end of the scale, Vinfast wants to develop its new models very quickly, perhaps too quickly, in up to two years, while the established industry does more in at least six months† When vendor help saves time, development can go too fast and validations can lead to failures. Especially since the internal research and development departments seem very small. The brand’s technical director, Mr. Sang Hong Bae, ex-GM, Faraday Future and Fisker, was not very specific in his answers on the subject”For each project, 40 to 50 people direct suppliers internally, and about the same in terms of quality”, which seems little. And then he didn’t seem to know which technology was chosen, or even whether it was chosen for the electric motors, the battery chemistry, their voltage and capacities, or even the charging capacity. However, the first models, VF9 and VF8, should arrive at the end of 2022! Since then, we have fortunately learned the values ​​​​of the battery capacity (from 82 to 123 kWh), as well as the maximum charging power of 250 kW.

Cars not given

Finally, Vingroup’s management doesn’t give up when things go bad. Launched at the end of 2018, Vinsmart, specializing in smartphones and connected televisions, was discontinued in June 2021 purely due to insufficient results. And Michael Loscheller, former Opel CEO, who took over as head of Vinfast in the summer of 2021, officially left last December for personal reasons.

In short, even if Vinfast France wants to have its own showroom – the one under construction in Paris not far from Tesla’s – and distribution network, there are still many questions about the brand… starting with the services of future models that we do not must try for the summer. Prices range from 43,050 to 51,200 € for the VF8 and from 58,700 to 64,100 € for the VF9† Prices to include the battery rental, ie €120/month for the VF8 and €150/month for the VF9 with unlimited mileage.

Vinfast .’s activities

  • Vincom Retail, Vinhomes and Vincity: commercial, office and residential real estate.
  • Vinpearl: Amusement and leisure parks, seaside resorts
  • Vinmec: health services and hospitals
  • Vinfa: Pharmacies and Traditional Medicine
  • Vinsmart: Smartphones and connected televisions. Created in 2018, closed in May 2021 due to unsatisfactory results.
  • Vinschool and Vinuni: Education System from Kindergarten to University
  • Vinconnect: service provider for internet and mobile telephony
  • VinEco: Agricultural production (14 giant farms) sold in 2019 while remaining shareholder
  • VinDS: Sporting Goods, Fashion, Beauty Products
  • VinID and VinCSS: Development of technology products and computer security services.
  • VinBus: Production of electric buses and their intelligent management system.

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