VinFast showcased four battery-electric SUVs at the LA Auto Show this week and even hinted at a sports car as the Vietnam-based automaker continues its plan to break into the US market.
The four EVs, which ranged in size from small five-passenger crossovers to large seven-passenger SUVs, are part of the company’s efforts to appeal to the American consumer. In an EV market that just about every automaker is now jumping into, it may take more than just offering SUVs. Though choice is part of the plan, said Craig Westbrook, VinFast US’s chief service officer
VinFast’s plan is to flood the space with tons of options so that Americans can become familiar with the new brand, Westbrook told TBEN. The executive also hinted that VinFast may be showing off a sports car for the US market this time next year.
“We need a product offensive,” Westbrook said in an interview at the LA Auto Show. “We need to be strong on the market. We don’t need to trickle down or relax models and buying options for a few. So in probably less than 12 months you’ll have all four models, all SUVs in these four major size and price segments.”
VinFast expects to release two SUVs, the VF6 and VF7, in early 2023.
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The VinFast SUVs
VinFast displayed the VF6, VF7, VF8 and VF9 at the LA Auto Show and offered rides in the VF8 for five passengers outside the convention center. Unlike last year’s auto show where the company showed global vehicles, the VFe36 and VFe35 had no interiors, the VF6 and VF7 had interiors for customers and media to poke around to get an idea of what the new company is in for. the US could do.
In the two short laps around the small test track in front of the LA Convention Center, the VF8 felt like any other EV crossover – the weight of the battery pack, which VinFast says will provide 280 miles of range, is evident, especially over uneven bumps. The vegan leather interior and the large central screen make the interior feel luxurious and surprisingly spacious. A large double-glazed roof makes the rear seats feel roomy and open, and the ride in the back is just as engaging.
Westbrook said the VF8 and VF9 vehicles are currently on their way to the US and should be delivered to buyers in early 2023. Globally, VinFast says it has taken 65,000 reservations for the VF8 and VF9, but the company had no specific outage for North America at the time of our interview.
According to Westbrook, most of those orders are coming to California, and customers are usually the ones taking the EV leap for the first time, according to Westbrook.
“Most pre-orders have taken place here [California]Westbrook said. “California is easy. This is where the headquarters is and where there’s a port, so we’re going to serve these customers first. Of course we want to look at all our customers, but that is the first way to enter the market as best as possible.”
VinFast has currently opened six retail locations in California, all in malls where people can come in and view the vehicles, much like a Tesla store. Westbrook says some of the first vehicles to come off the boat from Vietnam will go to the shops so more potential customers can get in the vehicles and take them for a test drive.
Westbrook said many of the reservation holders haven’t gotten to the point of the buying journey where they have to choose between opting for the company’s somewhat controversial battery leasing program or buying their vehicle outright. When asked about the reception reservation holders had to the battery lease option, Westbrook said, “We’ve kind of seen growing acceptance and interest in the option.”
While presenting at the LA Auto Show, Westbrook noted that VinFast recently took an order for 2,500 vehicles from auto-subscription company Autonomy, which generally only deals in Teslas.
New warranty and service options
VinFast’s goal is to make the transition to battery-electric as barrier-free as possible for new customers, Westbrook said. And to that end, the company announced more details of its bumper-to-bumper warranty, featuring an industry-leading 10-year, 200,000 km coverage and a 10-year unlimited mileage battery warranty that the company says is designed to give EV customers peace of mind when switching to electric driving.
The company also announced a cell service that will come to customers or provide rideshare options if customers get stranded.
“I would say when it comes to quality, people have expectations and we have to meet them,” said Westbrook. “We understand that if you buy a car here and our service point is there, you may not want to come to us. So we can help you, right? And that’s part of our model. It is not forced into anything. We realize that that is what you want as a customer.”