HAIPHONG, VIETNAM — Vietnamese automaker Vinfast plunged right into the crowded and hypercompetitive U.S. auto market, gambling that if it can sell its electric vehicles to finicky Americans, it can succeed anywhere.
So far, that gamble has yet to pay off. Its CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the U.S. market is “difficult.” It has sold just 2,009 electric vehicles in the U.S., less than 1% of total of total U.S. EV sales, according to Motorintelligence.com.
Worldwide, Vinfast sold just 19,562 EVs from April-September, well below its 2023 target of 50,000.
But Vinfast is committed to riding the wave of countries trying to switch to EVs to cut emissions, Thuy said while speaking with The Associated Press at Vinfast’s sleek headquarters in Hanoi.
Prioritizing the U.S. market, despite its stringent regulations, tough scrutiny by the media, and opposition from Vinfast’s advisers was a deliberate decision, she said.
“We wanted to go make our name in a very difficult market. Our rationale was very simple. If we can make it there, I mean, people will believe in us,” Thuy said. “So it’s an approval stamp to some extent. But it is very difficult.”
Vinfast is a part of Vingroup, a sprawling conglomerate that began as an instant noodle company in Ukraine in the 1990s. The company built its first car in 2019 in a seaside factory close to Haiphong, where engineers monitor screens as gleaming metal sheets are expertly snatched by robotic arms and pressed to make frames, doors and other parts that are welded, assembled and painted before the vehicles are tested.
In mid-August, Vinfast listed its shares on the Nasdaq, seeing them more than double in value to a peak of $82.35 that briefly put its market value above those of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in late August. They are now trading at about $5.70.
But while investor enthusiasm cooled after an initial buying frenzy, the company is committed to the U.S. market: It is building a $4 billion EV factory southwest of Raleigh, North Carolina, where production is planned to begin next year.
Source : VOA News