The first models of the new car brand VinFast were to be for sale in the Netherlands this year. AutoWeek traveled to VinFast’s home country: Vietnam.
Unlike most new car brands, which mainly come from China, VinFast is not part of an already existing, larger car manufacturer. The VinFast story begins in 1993, when Vietnamese Pham Nath Vuong, after twenty years of study and work in Europe, begins selling dehydrated food in Ukraine: noodles.
The business takes a turn for the worse and seven years later, shortly after the turn of the century, he decides to return to his homeland, where he declares that he will use his accumulated wealth and trade skills to improve the lives of the Vietnamese.
“Women do better do it at the top”
Founder Pham Nath Vuong from VinFast
Vietnam is a country with a troubled recent past. For twenty years it was divided into a communist north and a western south, resulting in a bitter, bloody war. When the dust settled, Vietnam was reunited into a communist one-party state, which soon after invaded neighboring Cambodia. Although the communist form of government persists to this day, relations with the West are now considerably eased and prosperity increases rapidly.
Vingroup, Pham Nath Vuong’s firm, claims a significant portion of the credit for this growth. Create a better life for people is Vingroup’s credo, but this is not just altruism: remarkably enough for a communist country, Vietnam has the largest private company in the region with Vingroup, of which the top executive is worth $ 7.5 billion (more than 7.2 billion euros), well worth the space 344 on Forbesranking of billionaires worldwide.
Vinfast is a still young but very ambitious car manufacturer.
BMW 5 Series
The auto industry is just one of the nine pillars that make up Vingroup. Each division is headed by a CEO who is exclusively women because Pham Nath Vuong believes women do better at the top.
Pham Nath Vuong thought that a wealthy Vietnamese people also have their own car brand a few years ago, and he put – according to his custom – his money where his mouth is. The latest car show in Paris featured a large sedan and SUV, based on the previous BMW 5 Series and X5. VinFast was realistic enough to understand that they did not have a chance in Europe, but wanted to announce the arrival of the brand with its presence in Paris.
From now on, all new models are fully electric, and it started in December last year, when the first copies of the VF e34 (a compact crossover, Captur format) went to customers. The car factory VinFast has only been running since June 2019 and was built in just 21 months. If you now look at the satellite images on Google Maps, you will only see the first halls that are still under construction.
Help from the design studio Pininfarina
In the Netherlands, VinFast starts with VF8 and VF9: two SUVs. For these SUVs, VinFast has received help from the originally Italian design studio Pininfarina, but it will not be allowed for the Medes and Persians, says design director David Lyon.
“We’re getting the necessary expertise from everywhere,” Lyon said. “In New York, we recently unveiled the VF7, designed by Torino Design. Our electric buses are designed by our specialist studio in Turkey. You do not have to be an expert in everything you need to know where to buy expertise. My job is to ensure that the result is VinFast and has the brand’s DNA. “
Ten dealers in the Netherlands and also battery leasing
VinFast’s international expansion plans are ambitious to say the least. VinFast aims to have a factory in Germany. A letter of intent was recently signed with the U.S. state of North Carolina about a factory in the United States.
For Europe, VinFast starts its adventure in France, Germany and the Netherlands. In our country, VinFast prepares ten dealers, all in-house. There will be a leasing construction for the batteries, which we saw earlier at Renault. It was not a success there, but – as they say on VinFast – times have changed. After VF8 and VF9, it’s time for VF7, a C-segment model that was recently unveiled at the New York Motor Show. Then the row at the bottom is supplemented with VF6 in the B-segment and VF5 in the A-segment. And then there’s a whole line-up from a brand that we had never heard of until recently. Will it work? Time will tell. Soon enough, if VinFast manages to keep this pace. Nomen est omen†
Read more about the new car brand VinFast in this report from AutoWeek.