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Can Vietnamese EV Company VinFast Compete in the U.S. Market?

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted December 8, 2022

When I was born, the U.S. was in the throes of the Vietnam war.

That was more than 50 years ago.

And while I don’t remember it, because I was just an infant, and only four when the war ended, I do remember growing up with movies that portrayed that war.  

From what I understand, most were not very good representations of what actually happened there, and in some instances, they portrayed an image of Vietnam that wasn’t particularly honest.  This, based on the conversations I’ve had with family members who served during the war, and ultimately became close friends with many Vietnamese families. 

Most of them are still alive, and for the most part, really don’t like talking about.  Make no mistake, PTSD is very real.  

Of course, the war has been over for almost 50 years, and a lot has changed.

Today, Vietnam is not the Vietnam of the 1970s.

While human rights remain a contentious issue, the Southeast Asian country and the U.S. now cooperate on a number of security and economic issues.  

In fact, bilateral trade increased from just $450 million in 1994 to $111.56 billion in 2021.

That’s not trivial.

This massive growth actually began prior to 1994, when Vietnam launched significant economic reforms in 1986.  And that not only led to hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade, it also led to the first Vietnamese car company to export its vehicles to the U.S. market.

The company is called VinFast, and last week it sent 1,000 new electric cars to the U.S. 

That’s right, not only is Vietnam now selling cars to American drivers, but they’re electric cars.  Which makes sense when you consider that the transition away from internal combustion to vehicle electrification is well underway.  

In fact, no new automaker on the planet is manufacturing internal combustion vehicles.  They’re all electric.  

And of course, this includes VinFast.

Now we got confirmation this week that VinFast will be going public in the U.S.

The company filed with the SEC with the intention of going public in 2023.

This news comes about 9 months after the company announced its plans to build a $2 billion factory in North Carolina. 

Vinfast is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol VFS.  And the question is, how will it perform?

It’s still too early to tell.

There just isn’t enough information about the quality of these vehicles yet, or whether or not they’ll even sell in the U.S. market. 

I’m skeptical.

While I would love nothing more than for VinFast to be successful, I’m not certain its price points are going to be able to hold up, unless these vehicles are superior to other similarly-priced electric cars.

VinFast has two models at the moment: the VF8, which starts at $57,000 and the VF9, which starts at $76,000.

These are price points we’ve seen from Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), so in order for VinFast to succeed, its vehicle must be at least on par with what Tesla offers.  And that’s a high bar.

VinFast does have an interesting option, though, which involves a lower priced VF8 at $42,000 and a lower priced VF9 at $57,500.  These lower-priced vehicles offer a cheaper upfront price, but come with “battery subscriptions,” where you pay a monthly battery subscription of $169 for the VF8 and $219 per month for the VF9.

I actually really like this subscription model, but again, I’m not sold on the pricing.

After all, there are a number of decent electric cars you can buy today for the same price as the lower-priced VF8 and VF9 vehicles, and those don’t require battery subscriptions.

Now if VinFast could manufacture these vehicles at a loss and make up the difference on battery subscriptions, that could be a winning proposition.  Whether or not such a thing is possible, I have no idea. 

Of course, we may be surprised.

VinFast could absolutely deliver a superior electric vehicle making it absolutely worth the retail price.  But until we can confirm that, I’ll be watching this one from a distance. 

That being said, I really hope VinFast proves successful.  And certainly, if given the opportunity, I will test drive one and let you know my thoughts.

Until then, here’s a recent review of Vinfast’s VF8 …

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