Vietnam's Vinfast only unveiled its first vehicles in 2018 but the ambitious company already eyes an expansion outside its home market, and one of the export targets is the United States.
Vinfast plans to show its first U.S.-bound vehicle, a battery-electric crossover SUV with a range of 300 miles, as early as the 2020 Los Angeles Auto Show. The show will run in November, assuming there's no disruption caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Citing a statement from the company, Reuters reported Thursday that Vinfast will start road tests of its EV in January 2021 and mass production the following July. Helping with the development is German engineering outfit Edag.
The batteries will be sourced from South Korea's LG Chem as part of a deal forged in 2019. Vinfast and LG Chem have already established a joint-venture battery plant adjacent to Vinfast's vehicle plant in Hai Phong, Vietnam.
Vinfast's first vehicles are a sedan and SUV based on the previous generation of the BMW 5-Series and X5. The electric SUV will be the first vehicle from the company developed from the ground up. Shown above is a proposal for a Vinfast electric SUV designed by Italdesign, though the electric SUV to be shown at the L.A. Auto Show will feature a design by Pininfarina. The company is also known to be developing electric scooters and commercial vehicles.
Unlike other startups promising to bring EVs to the market, Vinfast has deep pockets. It's part of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, which specializes in construction and real estate development but is also involved in agriculture, healthcare, retail, tourism and numerous other sectors. And founder Pham Nhat Vuong has pledged $2 billion of his own fortune to see Vinfast become a globally recognized automaker.