Vietnam throws its hat into the automotive manufacturing ring.
Vietnam has a homegrown car company known as VinFast and this upstart automaker is showcasing its new models at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. VinFast is not a household name and its vehicles aren’t likely to be sold in the U.S. anytime soon.
Nevertheless, the Vietnamese automaker has two models to show for it, with both going into production in 2019.
VinFast is the first Vietnamese automaker, but it isn’t the first company to produce new cars in this Southeastern Asia nation of nearly 100 million residents. Most passenger vehicles produced in Vietnam are from knock-down kits, cars partially assembled abroad then completed locally. Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Toyota are among the brands present.
As for VinFast, the company is making it clear that its Italian-inspired models are Vietnamese influenced.
The company tapped Pininfarina, the Italian design house with developing the new models based on consumer input. The result is two models, a sedan and a crossover utility vehicle, that the company believes reflect the country’s spirit.
VinFast calls its two models the LUX A2.0 and LUX SA2.0, names that hardly roll off of the tongue or are easy to commit to memory. Nevertheless, this naming strategy has been embraced by upstart automakers before (e.g., Ford Model T and A; every European manufacturer), but may eventually change especially as the company eyes foreign markets.
David Beckham Presents
Not wasting any time, VinFast tapped retired English professional footballer David Beckham to tout the brand. Beckham was introduced at the 2018 Paris Motor Show for the official unveiling of the two VinFast models.
“I’ve always been a car fanatic, and it’s a thrill to be here in Paris to celebrate the arrival of a new carmaker on the global stage. When I met you and your colleagues backstage earlier, the passion that you all have for the cars is infectious. It’s an inspirational story and I’m really excited to be part of this launch moment for VinFast,” noted Beckham to VinFast personnel.
New Model Highlights
Not all details about the new model have surfaced yet. The only photos supplied by the manufacturer are exterior shots. But those photos do reveal the artistic design flair incorporated. VinFast could have chosen a more utilitarian look and satisfied its home audience. But the automaker is looking to begin exports not too soon after Vietnam consumers become acquainted with the brand.
We do know that powering both models is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Apparently, there will be two performance variants. The first one will produce 173 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The second one has an output of 231 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The sedan will offer both choices, while the utility vehicle will have the higher output version only.
Both models, by the way, offer standard rear-wheel drive. The SUV will also have an all-wheel-drive option. This is a common layout for premium European models.
Letting Loose and Looking Ahead
VinFast has already indicated it won’t stop with its two initial models. Indeed, the company has struck a deal with General Motors to market a city car under the VinFast name. VinFast and GM also have a partnership agreement in place, which resulted in the transfer of GM’s Hanoi automotive plant to VinFast.
Other models planned include an electric car and an electric bus. All three models are currently under development.
What are VinFast’s chances of success? It may be quite good as the company has extensive government backing and sought early on to bring consumers to the development process. It would be foolish for anyone to underestimate the company’s potential, given that manufacturers such as Hyundai and Tesla have successfully disrupted the market in their own time and expertise.
Photos copyright VinFast.