The young automaker plans to build all-electric SUVs in the US with the backing of Vingroup, Vietnam's largest conglomerate.
Vietnamese automaker VinFast is putting down roots in the American South. The Hanoi-based automaker, which previously announced its intentions to enter the US market with a line of electric SUVs, confirmed plans Tuesday to build an EV plant in in the Greater Raleigh area of Chatham County, North Carolina. The new complex will include an automobile production factory and a battery plant.
Construction on the automaker's first plant outside of Vietnam is slated to start later this year on the 2,000-acre facility and a July, 2024 timeframe is targeted for its opening. The plant is earmarked to produce 150,000 vehicles per year, including the seven-passenger VinFast VF 9 electric SUV and the VinFast VF-8, a midsize five-passenger crossover EV. Buses are also also on the road map for VinFast's US plant. (The company already offers everything from electric cars to e-scooters and electric buses in its home market.)
"Having a production facility right in the market will help VinFast to proactively manage its supply chain, maintain stabilized prices and shorten product supply time, making VinFast's Evs more accessible to customers, contributing to the realization of local environmental improvement goals," said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup vice chair and VinFast global CEO, in an official statement.
VinFast plans to invest up to $2 billion in Phase 1 of the facility en route to a total investment of $4 billion and some 7,000 new jobs.
The American South has long been the location of choice for auto companies to locate new plants due to a combination of business-friendly regulations, tax breaks, inexpensive wages and historically low union membership. (According to a January statement by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina has America's second-lowest percentage of union membership, just 2.6%.)
VinFast is part of Vingroup, Vietnam's largest conglomerate that owns and operates everything from shopping malls, hotels and golf courses to a food-processing plant, university and health care companies. The multibillion-dollar company is looking to expand at a breakneck pace, with operations beachheads already established in the US, Canada, Germany and France. It developed its first three car models in a scant 21 months and its first vehicles went on the market in 2019.
President Joe Biden hailed the announcement in a statement, calling it, "... the latest example of my economic strategy at work. It builds on recent announcements from companies like GM, Ford, and Siemens to invest in America again and create jobs."
In January, VinFast announced at CES that the company was opening US reservations for its first all-electric SUVs, models previously known as the VF e35 and VF 36. The automaker reportedly plans to offer foreign-built models to American buyers by late 2022 before its new North Carolina plant comes online. The automaker has yet to reveal a US sales and service network.