Can Vietnam’s new EV brand take the UK by storm?
Bored of the Chinese electric takeover? Vinfast is here to help. With a comprehensive four-car range and a top-rung seven-seat SUV starting from $80,000, is this Vietnamese startup the answer to BYD and XPENG?
Can you name a Vietnamese automaker? Don’t worry, we couldn’t either. But, as it happens, they do exist and in the case of Vinfast – founded 2017 in Haiphong, Vietnam – look worthy of further investigation. So, we’ve done the legwork for you.
As the brainchild of Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, the automotive newcomer doesn’t lack funding – as much should be evident from the marque’s ability to develop a four-car range from scratch in the space of just 7 years.
Sales, on the other hand, have yet to flourish in the same way as some Chinese equivalents. We imagine the 7,000 units the brand shifted domestically in 2022 raised a few eyebrows in Haiphong. However, those figures will dramatically increase over the coming years as Vinfast pursues global expansion.
But are its cars any good? Simply put, we don’t know yet. The range certainly isn’t lacking in choice – four electric models span from the compact VF 6 SUV (targeting the same segment as Volvo’s EX30 and MG ZS), to the gargantuan 5.2-metre long VF9 three-row 4x4.
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While Vinfast is already available across the pond, the VF 8 has notably failed to garner much praise in early road tests. US motoring journalists have reached the consensus that the model isn’t yet ready for public consumption, although perhaps the company can iron out any teething issues ahead of the UK release.
Speaking of which, little has been confirmed about the exact release date, or which models British buyers will have to choose from. It won’t be an easy market to infiltrate either, as sales charts indicate that many Brits are still bound to legacy brands, with over two-thirds reluctant to consider Chinese cars.
Despite being in its infancy, Vinfast does at least boast solid industry experience in the shape of former Genesis lead, Andrew Pilkington. Acting as the brand’s deputy CEO for the UK, Pilkington is well-versed in the challenges of breaking into new territories, after his stint at the wheel of Hyundai’s luxury spin-off saw a significant improvement in UK sales. We’re excited to see if he can work similar wonders for Vinfast.
Would you spend your hard-earned cash on a Vietnamese car? If so, keep your eyes peeled for the full UK launch later in 2024.
Hero image credit: Vinfast