LA Auto Show: VinFast
An Un-Pho-Gettable Vehicle Debut!
The Vietnamese automaker VinFast will be making a North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show
By Reed Berry
Thu, Nov 17, 2022 06:31 PM PST
Featured image: The new VinFast VF6 on display at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show (photo: Reed Berry)
Hey, I love pho (a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup, in case you've never had it,) so I may just develop a taste for Vietnamese automobiles, as well, at this year's L.A. Auto Show.
Founded just five years ago in 2017, VinFast is a Vietnamese automotive company headquartered in Singapore. Their vehicles are produced in Vietnam but, as they phase out production of gas-powered vehicles at the end of this year to transition fully to electric vehicles, they plan to open a plant in Germany as well as a U.S. plant in North Carolina. In case you are wondering what VinFast means, Vin is for Vietnam, and the letters in Fast represent Vietnamese words that mean Style, Safety, Creativeness and Pioneer.
The two electric crossover SUVs unveiled here at the show are the subcompact VF6 and midsize VF7. Designed by well known Italian design house Torino Design, both are quite stylish inside and out. Both models will come in an Eco and a Plus version. The 174-hp VF6 Eco has cloth and vegan leather seating and a steel roof. The 201-hp VF6 Plus has vegan leather seating and a panoramic glass roof. The 201-hp VF7 Eco has cloth upholstery and a steel roof, while the 349-hp VF7 Plus features premium vegan leather seating and a panoramic glass roof. Both have spacious, comfortable interiors and the latest in technology and infotainment features. According to VinFast's PR team, the pricing and estimated range for both vehicles will be released at a later date.
Two larger electric SUVs will also be coming to the U.S. market, the VF8 (402-hp; estimated 292 mile range) and VF9 (402-hp; estimated 369 mile range,) are spacious and comfortable, as well as having a bold, eye catching body design. Probably the most unique feature of the VinFast EV lineup is that there is no display in front of the driver, just a padded dash panel. Driver info appears on a head-up display projected on the windshield, and on a huge 15.6-inch center-mounted infotainment touchscreen, which is capable of mirroring the screen on your cell phone.
Here's where it gets interesting. VinFast prices each model without the cost of the battery and then charges owners a monthly battery subscription fee of around $200 per month that covers and maintenance, repairs, replacement, etc, for the life of the vehicle. You can buy the vehicle and the battery, but the cost is considerably higher and you will have to shell out $20K or so when it's time to replace the battery. The VF8 has a starting price of $42,200 plus the battery subscription fee or $57,000 with the battery. The VF9 starts at $57,500 plus the monthly battery fee or $76,000 with the battery.
So, here's the question. Will drivers here in the U.S. be receptive to a fairly pricey EV newcomer, or will they place their faith in - and spend their money on - a more familiar and trusted brand?
VinFast has six showrooms in California, with three more coming soon.
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.