Bearing the VinFast nameplate, Vietnam’s first major domestic automaker is fast-tracking its efforts to recruit and train a skilled workforce while assembling a roster of international vendors. Production-scale sales of two models – a sedan and SUV – are scheduled to rollout in September of 2019.
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The company’s duo of prototype designs drew rave reviews from the worldwide auto press during their respective debuts at October’s Mondial de l’Auto – the Paris Motor Show.
“With our ambitious plans to bring these two vehicles to market in such a short time, it was crucial for us to make a big entrance and an immediate impact, and we certainly did that today,” observed VinFast Chairwoman Le Thi Thu Thuy as she unveiled its LUX A2.0 sedan and LUX SA2.0 SUV to wide acclaim from attendees and journalists alike.
“We have the resources, scalability and commitment to become a significant new player in the global automotive industry,” says VinFast CEO James DeLuca. “We are immensely proud to be the first volume-automotive manufacturer in Vietnam, and the first to participate in a major international motor show.”
The initial marketing initiative will cover Vietnam and nearby Southeast Asian nations with plans to subsequently export to additional foreign destinations. VinFast branch offices are located in Frankfurt, Shanghai and Seoul.
Engineering, design, production and vendor partnerships with General Motors, Lear Corp., BMW, Bosch, Magna Steyr, ZF Friedrichshafen, AVL, EDAG, AAPICO, Pininfarina, Italdesign Giugiaro, LG Chem and other global firms are aimed at providing a “Vietnamese identity” for vehicles further enhanced by “Italian design, European technology and international standards.”
“The strong, distinguishable design, enhanced by elegant lines and refined details, gives our cars several distinctive highlights,” explains VinFast Design Director David Lyon. “First and foremost, these emanate around the V logo in the grille which references the country of Vietnam as well as the Vingroup and VinFast brands.”
Vingroup – Vietnam’s largest privately owned conglomerate with vast holdings in construction, real estate, education, healthcare, agriculture, tourism and retail – is VinFast’s parent firm, posting 2017 revenues of $3.8 billion.
Vietnam’s annual GDP (gross domestic product) per capita growth has accelerated in recent years to exceed 6.8 percent and is forecasted to continue at a 6.5 percent rate for at least the next three years.
The company anticipates “a major boom in the passenger car market.” Current vehicle ownership is 23 cars per 1,000 people, compared to 204 cars per 1,000 people in neighboring Thailand and 790 cars per 1,000 people in the United States.
“Estimates suggest the ownership of cars in Vietnam will grow to 50 per 1,000 in the next few years, as a result of a rapidly growing middle class, continued economic growth and major investments in the national road infrastructure,” according to DeLuca.
Up until now the Vietnamese auto industry has mostly consisted of Asian OEMs assembling CKD (complete knock-down)models to avoid import tariffs that have since ended under a recent ASEAN trade agreement. (The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.)
“Vietnam needs its own car brand in order for the industry to develop and thrive,” DeLuca notes. “It will also serve as a signal to the rest of the world that the country is undergoing an economic transition to high-value industries, and that it is becoming a strong trading force in Southeast Asia.”