VinFast, a Vietnamese electric vehicle (EV) maker that has been compared to Tesla, has sent its first batch of 999 EVs to the U.S.
The shipment of the EVs, which consists of VinFast’s VF 8 electric SUV, kicked off with a ceremony celebrating the company's venture into international markets on Friday, according to a recent press release.
Aboard the Panamanian charter ship known as the Silver Queen, the first batch of VinFast EVs is expected to arrive in California around 20 days after setting sail from MPC Port in Haiphong, Vietnam.
Part of this batch will go to California-based car subscription company Autonomy, while the rest will be sent to retail buyers who ordered the VF 8s. VinFast said its first customers in the U.S. can expect to receive their orders by the end of December.
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“The export of the first 999 VF 8s is a significant event for VinFast and Vingroup and a proud historical milestone for the Vietnamese automotive industry,” Nguyen Viet Quang, the vice chairman and CEO of Vingroup, VinFast’s listed parent company, said.
“It affirms that Vietnam has successfully produced high-quality standards electric vehicles that are ready to compete in the international market. We hope that, when VinFast’s smart electric vehicles roll out on the streets around the world, it will help promote the image of a new, dynamic and progressive Vietnam to the global audience.”
The VF 8, which comes in two versions – the Eco and Plus – is a five-seater SUV in the D segment that comes packed with various features, such as an advanced driver assistance system with highway assist, lane changing assist and smart parking assist.
The electric SUV’s Eco variant will reportedly come with a maximum electric motor power of 260 kilowatts and battery life that can last for up to 420 kilometers (approximately 261 miles) at full charge. The Plus version is equipped with an increased maximum electric motor power of 300 kilowatts, a full-charge range of around 400 kilometers (approximately 249 miles) and a higher torque of 620 Newton-meters compared to the Eco’s 500 Newton-meters.
In a statement issued last week, VinFast said Autonomy placed 2,500 orders for its vehicles, making the transaction the Vietnamese company’s largest-ever corporate order. Besides Autonomy, the EV manufacturer noted that it has received almost 65,000 orders globally and expects to sell even more cars – as much as 750,000 annually – by 2026.
VinFast Chief Executive Le Thi Thu Thuy told Reuters the company is expecting to ship the second batch around January next year.
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VinFast is also waiting for further regulatory approval from officials to build a $2 billion EV factory in North Carolina, with production expected to start by 2024, Thuy said.
Thuy also noted that EVs built in the state would become qualified for incentives under President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act on the condition that automakers get 50 percent of the critical minerals used in making EV batteries from North America or any other U.S. allies by 2024.
Even though it remains unclear how VinFast plans to meet this sourcing requirement, Thuy shared that the act would not affect the company in the U.S.
“The IRA came as a surprise to all of us but it doesn't really impact our strategy in the U.S.," Thuy said. “As soon as we start manufacturing cars in the U.S., our customers will be eligible [for] the tax incentive."
In addition to the U.S., VinFast is aiming to start shipping its cars to Canadian and European customers in 2023.
Featured Image via VinFast US