Vietnamese EV maker VinFast has announced that it will open doors to its first dealership in the US, in the same state where it is building a state-of-the-art $4 billion EV factory. The automaker is partnering with North Carolina’s Leith Automotive Group to start selling its fully electric cars in the state.
VinFast has announced a joint partnership with Leith Automotive Group to start selling its vehicles – the VF 8 crossover to start and more models soon thereafter – at a dealership in Cary Auto Park, North Carolina, not far from the EV factory in Chatham County. Leith VinFast, which is what it will be dubbed, will offer sales, repairs, maintenance and parts for VinFast vehicles.
VinFast’s global chief executive told Reuters that the company is switching up its distribution model, which was previously based on Tesla’s direct-to-consumer model, to what it calls a “hybrid” model that includes dealers. North Carolina’s VinFast manufacturing plant is expected to produce as many as 150,000 vehicles annually after it is completed in 2025.
VinFast, which has been delivering batches of cars in California since March, told Reuters that it has received 70 applications from dealers in the US, which means the brand potentially could start distributing its EVs through 125 points of sales around the country once approvals are put in place.
In its home country, VinFast has recently launched a $20,000 electric minicar called the VF 3, and Electrek has reported that the company is considering bringing it to the US, alongside the VF 8 and high-end VF9, which it already sells stateside in small batches. The 2024 VF 8 starts at abut $47K and goes up to about $53K depending on trim and options, with the Eco model offering the highest range at 264 miles per charge.
VinFast, sort of an EV underdog, is landing in the US at a time of high EV pricing pressure coming from heavy hitters like Tesla. And while it has huge global ambitions, sales volumes have been small – so it has a lot to prove. It sold just 11,315 for the first half of 2023, compared to Tesla’s more than 889,000 vehicles in the same period. VinFast has so far sold vehicles in California, where it has 13 showrooms across the state, but data from Experian showed only 237 units had been registered through September, according to CarScoops. It is looking to broaden its footprint in North America and Europe, however, and says it expects to sell 750,00 vehicles a year globally by 2026. Of course, bringing that low-priced minicar to the US could stack the odds in its favor, and Americans love an underdog.