VinFast’s Gamble on a $20,000 EV with a Surprising Twist

In the ever-evolving world of electric vehicles, Vietnamese company VinFast stirred up excitement during its US debut. The initial buzz was real, with its stock skyrocketing 255% on the Nasdaq, momentarily outpacing giants like Ford and General Motors after a successful SPAC merger with Black Space Acquisition. However, it’s been a rollercoaster ride since then, with the stock plummeting around 90%, and their first global vehicle, the VF8, facing harsh criticism in reviews.

The VF3: An Unexpected Player in the US Market

VinFast, determined to turn things around, took an unexpected turn at CES in Las Vegas by unveiling the VF3, a $20,000 electric vehicle. This compact car boasts an estimated 125-mile driving range on a full charge, making it one of the smallest offerings in the US market at just 125 inches long.

Le Thi Thu Thuy, Chairwoman of VinFast’s Board of Directors, shared the surprising journey behind this decision. Originally, they had no plans to bring the VF3 to North America, believing US consumers favored larger cars. However, during a visit to the US in September, dealers convinced Thuy to venture into the lower end of the market.

“It’s an interesting twist,” Thuy remarked, highlighting the unexpected shift in strategy prompted by feedback from dealers who saw potential in the smaller VF3. This move underscores the challenges VinFast faces in making a mark in the competitive EV market.

Challenges and Ambitions: VinFast’s Path Forward

Despite having delivered around 21,200 cars in California as of the third quarter of 2023, VinFast faces hurdles in gaining traction, especially when compared to industry giant Tesla. The company aims to address these challenges by building a $4 billion EV factory in North Carolina, capable of producing up to 150,000 vehicles annually.

VinFast has also made changes to its executive team, with Pham Nhat Vuong, the founder of parent company Vingroup, stepping in as CEO. Thuy, now the Chairwoman of the board, sees this as a “reinforcement” to position the company for global expansion.

To meet the demand for affordable EVs, VinFast plans to launch the VF3 in the US early next year, emphasizing the need to cater to the mass market. Additionally, the company is eyeing global expansion with a $2 billion factory in India, aiming to deliver 750,000 vehicles annually by 2026.

VinFast, not content with just the VF3, also unveiled an all-electric pickup truck at CES, seeking public feedback for a potential release in 2026. Thuy expressed the company’s desire to have something for everyone in their electric vehicle lineup.