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Vietnam's VinFast reveals three electric SUVs, plans to open orders this year

VinFast tossed around a lot of "self-driving" terminology as it aims to become a leader for "smart" electric cars.

VinFast VF33
The VF33 looks most promising, even if it includes the least details.
VinFast

Remember VinFast? Of course you don't. It's a startup based in Vietnam that's hell bent on becoming a global automaker, and it supposedly debuted its first two cars back in 2018 in Paris. Well, that sedan and SUV are apparently dead because this past Friday, VinFast revealed three new electric SUVs instead.

Full disclosure: There aren't any details on the SUVs' architecture nor their electric powertrains, save for basic specs, but VinFast is confident it will open the order books for two of the SUVs in the US, Europe and Canada this November. What the company did share are specifics about where each model fits into its respective segment.

VinFast VF31

The VF31 is the least handsome of the three.

VinFast

The first is the VF31, about the size of a Ford EcoSport. VinFast calls it a C-segment SUV, though such vehicles are usually larger. Think of it as a subcompact SUV. The VF31 will come in two variants: one with 200 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, and a less powerful model that makes 114 hp and 140 lb.-ft. of torque. Both will share a 42-kWh battery pack, a single motor and go 186 miles on a charge, so says VinFast. This one isn't for the US, Canada and Europe, however.

VinFast VF32

This is the VF32. None of these cars look like VinFast's past models.

VinFast

The second is, following an alphanumeric hierarchy to a T, the VF32. It will compete in the D-segment (Ford Edge-size machines) and feature two electric motors and make 402 hp and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. A second version will scale things down with a single motor and 201 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, but a 90-kWh battery will serve both versions, according to VinFast. The company did not provide a range estimate for the VF32.

In fact, the details grow even slimmer for the third SUV, the VF33. All VinFast said was to expect two electric motors, a battery capacity "up to" 106 kWh and 342 miles of range. Tossing numbers out is simple. Building cars is difficult.

VinFast also incorrectly characterizes its "self-driving" technology across the board, and groups various systems such as driver-assist alerts as autonomous technology. Each car will, according to VinFast, offer some sort of lidar system that promises Level 4 automated driving, though you might consider bringing your salt shaker. Not even Waymo can make the claim yet with its extensive amount of testing. Also hang onto that salt shaker, as VinFast describes a futuristic interior for each SUV that includes facial recognition, artificial intelligence and a multilingual virtual assistant.

I'm not saying that none of this is possible, but these are precious few details for three SUVs gearing up to launch locally this May, and opening for orders globally just months later. VinFast has made a lot of promises here, and now we'll need to see if it delivers.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story said all three SUVs will be sold in the US, Canada and Europe. Only the VF32 and VF33 are scheduled and the text now reflects this.