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Vietnamese automotive manufacturer VinFast has announced that it will take the stage at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show to introduce the world to its newest EVs. Part of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, VinGroup, it has been making serious headway in the mobility space since its inception in 2017.

Now, the company is all set to lift the covers off two of its EV models – VF e35 and VF e36 – at the LA show, scheduled to be held in November this year.

This isn’t just going to be a world premiere of VinFast’s EVs, the event will also mark the introduction of the VinFast EV brand to the North American market.

VinFast Global CEO, Michael Lohscheller, joined the company earlier this year after serving as Opel AG’s CEO.

“Before Vingroup entered the automotive industry, there were no Vietnamese car brands made by Vietnamese people. The auto industry was accustomed to imports, rarely localised assembly, underdeveloped supporting industries, and higher costs than other regional countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. Yet, Vietnam’s automotive market also has one of the highest potentials in the world, offering an extremely low car ownership rate of only 23 cars per 1,000 people, compared to 721/1,000 in Brunei, 444/1,000 in Malaysia, and 226/1000 in Thailand,” says Lohscheller.

“As a result, Vingroup considered entering the automotive industry as both an opportunity and a challenge. After only three years, VinFast now offers people the opportunity to own vehicles at fair costs while fulfilling the growing demands of local consumers. Gradually, VinFast has gained independence and proactive growth within the automotive industry and its supply chain, thus establishing a position as a national brand.”

“VinFast has achieved significant progress and monumental impressions in the market. In addition to ICE vehicles, VinFast has been developing a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, including electric scooters, electric buses, and soon the VF e34, Vietnam’s first EV. With 25,000 pre-orders placed in just three months, the VF e34 immediately set a sales record in Vietnam,” he adds.

“Since its inception, VinFast has set a vision to become a global smart electric vehicle brand. As VinFast globally expands to the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the company will soon achieve this goal. In terms of long-term objectives, VinFast intends to play a significant role in the global development of green transportation.”

Michael Lohscheller

Electrification is Central

VinFast is currently active in three segments – two-wheelers, four-wheelers and buses. However, four-wheelers remain the company’s top-priority, according to Lohscheller.

Apart from ICE vehicles such as the Fadil, Lux A, Lux SA2.0, and President, the company introduced the VF e34 EV in Vietnam and soon the VF e35 and VF e36 models in the D and E segments in the North American and European markets like France, Germany, and the Netherlands within the first half of 2022.

“Then there will be a wide variety of models ranging from A to E segments that are ‘tailor-made’ for overseas customers,” explains Lohscheller.

In the electric motorcycle space, VinFast is one of the leading electric scooter brands in Vietnam, with nearly 100,000 units on the road. Moreover, the company has successfully manufactured and piloted its own electric buses, while VinBus – another arm of Vingroup – is poised to operate in Vietnam’s major cities from October 2021, with up to thousands of electric buses to be put into use.

VinBus uses a non-profit business model to provide smart and environmentally friendly public transportation.

VinFast recently showcased three new EVs, and Lohscheller says that electrification is central to VinFast’s plans for the future.

“Electrification is a global trend toward a greener future and sustainable development. North American and European countries have announced measures to phase out ICE vehicles by 2030 – 2035.”

“Seeing this as an opportunity and a perfect time and inherently setting proper strategies and vision, VinFast is focusing on developing electric vehicles with outstanding quality in each segment, excellent after-sales services, reasonable prices, and creative sales policies, with the goal of removing all barriers to consumers’ access to electric vehicles. The three aforementioned electric cars are just the beginning of our top priority area, and we plan to offer a wide range of electric vehicles across segments in the future to meet the market’s diverse needs,” he explains.

Vf E36 Interior (3)

“Along with self-driving technologies, safety features and standards are among our top concerns.”

On the connected car technology front, Lohscheller is quite vocal about VinFast’s ‘Customer First’ philosophy, wherein the company’s offerings are equipped with the latest cutting-edge technologies, with a strong focus on connectivity, to provide users with an exciting and seamless driving experience.

“We have established R&D institutes and technology firms within Vingroup’s business ecosystem to research and develop connected technologies for use in VinFast models,” he explained. “In addition, we progressively seek global collaboration and investment with start-up companies, technology firms, creative innovators, and other entities to develop and deploy advanced connected technologies on VinFast models.”

“We will offer a wide variety of Smart Service functions, including smart car control, vehicle-mobile device connectivity, and a platform to connect other value-added services related to charging stations and e-commerce. In addition, some in-car functions can be voice-controlled, such as the sunroof, air conditioning system, infotainment, and more,” he adds.

“VinFast users can enjoy two-way communication with AI-powered virtual assistants and search for useful information on a variety of topics while personalising their experience based on tastes and preferences. The virtual assistant on VinFast cars is capable of understanding a number of languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Vietnamese. A separate application will be offered to help customers experience these connected utilities.”

And if that sounded exciting, wait, there’s more. According to Lohscheller, the newest EVs are also equipped with autonomous technologies, with safety being one of the company’s prime areas of focus.

“R&D in self-driving technologies is critical for VinFast and Vingroup’s entire business ecosystem. In addition to cooperating with leading partners in the industry, we also benefit from technology institutes and firms in that ecosystem, such as VinBigdata, VinAI, VinSmart, and others to accelerate the R&D process,” said Lohscheller.

“Along with self-driving technologies, safety features and standards are among our top concerns. VinFast vehicles are equipped with ADAS, making driving safe and easy. ADAS features include lane-keeping assistance, collision avoidance, and driver monitoring. In addition to ADAS, we are committed to EURO NCAP and NHTSA standards. Further details on self-driving features will be revealed closer to the launch of our EVs.”


Preparing to Take The Global Stage

VinFast electric vehicles are scheduled to hit worldwide markets in the first half of 2022, and the VF e35 and VF e36 will be available for pre-order from the first half of 2022. As of now, Vietnam acts as the manufacturing base for the entirety of VinFast’s product range, including its global products.

I was keen to know how significant this was for the Vietnamese auto industry, and if this might change moving forward now that the company is launching its products in multiple markets.

Lohscheller answered by saying: “Setting up the production plant solely in Vietnam means a lot to us. In addition to boosting the automotive industry in Vietnam, we can encourage local supporting industries and high-value supply chains to expand as well as elevate the national brand.”

“In terms of growing our production activities outside Vietnam, we explore our options depending on each market’s actual demands and growth potential. But, of course, regardless of where they are built, VinFast’s products must meet the highest standards on quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness for consumers.”

VinFast is the only EV brand representing Vietnam at this year’s LA Auto Show. As the world waits to catch a glimpse of its newest EVs, VinFast is now readying itself to compete on the global stage with other seasoned players in this space in the North American and European markets. 

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