Vietnam’s VinFast delivers first electric vehicles to American customers

HAI PHONG, Vietnam, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast said on Friday it had delivered its first batch of 999 vehicles to the United States, capping a five-year bid to build a car manufacturing hub in the Southeast Asian country. for markets in North America and Europe.

The first cars are expected to be delivered to customers by the end of December, the company said.

VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said some of the VF 8 electric SUVs that will be shipped on Friday will be sent to U.S. autonomous service Autonomy, but most will go to retail buyers who ordered the car.

Thuy said VinFast expects to be able to ship the second batch of cars to the United States, its first export market, around January.

VinFast is in the process of building an electric vehicle factory in North Carolina, pending final regulatory approval from local officials.

Thuy said the company expects to begin production at the North Carolina plant from July 2024 and that electric vehicles made there will be eligible for incentives under the terms of the Inflation Reduction Act signed by US President Joe Biden.

The Inflation Reduction Act, as currently written, requires automakers to source 50% of critical minerals used in EV batteries from North America or U.S. allies by 2024, up to 80% by the end of 2026.

Major automakers said those targets were unrealistic, and it was not immediately clear how VinFast would meet the resource requirements.

“The IRA was a surprise to all of us, but it doesn’t really affect our strategy in the US,” Thuy told Reuters. “Once we start making cars in the US, our customers will be eligible for a tax incentive.”

VinFast said last week that Autonomy had ordered 2,500 electric vehicles, its largest corporate order to date. VinFast said it has nearly 65,000 orders worldwide and expects to sell 750,000 EVs annually by 2026.

The North Carolina plant project is running months behind schedule, based on the company’s original targets, and the first shipment of EVs made by VinFast fell short of its original goal of delivering up to 5,000 cars made at its Haiphong plant by December.

VinFast officials said the number 999 for the vehicles shipped in the first batch was chosen because it is considered a lucky number in Vietnam.

“There is no luckier number than 999,” Thuy said. The Panamanian chartered shipping vessel used to ship the first VinFast EV shipment had the capacity to carry up to 2,000 vehicles, officials said.

Shares in VinFast’s listed parent Vingroup, which also has property and resort businesses, rose 5.41% on Friday morning.

Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Screenplay by Kevin Krolicki; Edited by Ed Davies and Edmund Klamann

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