UPDATE: More than 24 hours after we reported the story, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced VinFast’s plans for the Chatham County site. We’re linking to the press release for the current update.
Rumors began swirling in mid-March that a significant piece of property in Chatham County, North Carolina, was up for grabs. Specifically, that land is within the Triangle Innovation Point development, which is located near Pea Ridge Road (Exit 81, Route 1).
Ahead of the weekend, the Triangle Business Journal (also see Chatham News + Record) said that VinFast, an upstart electric vehicle manufacturer from Vietnam, is the prospective tenant. If so, VinFast would follow Toyota in claiming land in central North Carolina to build a facility.
VinFast is new to the market, serving Vietnam with overseas markets planned. By building a plant stateside, the company gains immediate access to a marketplace that is seemingly ripe for electric cars.
For its part, Vinfast will invest up to $2 billion for the first phase of the project. As mentioned previously, VinFast will occupy a portion of the Triangle Innovation Point mega-site in Chatham County, which is reachable via US Highway 1. Unlike the earlier deal with Toyota, this one will establish a full car manufacturing plant, the state’s first.
“North Carolina is quickly becoming the center of our country’s emerging, clean energy economy,” said Governor Cooper. “VinFast’s transformative project will bring many good jobs to our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
VinFast and North Carolina
Based on preliminary information, we believe the VinFast deal will total $7 billion. If so, it will rival one of the largest economic investments in North Carolina’s history. The state will kick in taxpayer funds to support the deal.
We expect that Governor Roy Cooper will address that when an official announcement follows this week.
Among the other details, we anticipate the following:
Creation of 10,000 to 13,000 New Jobs
Those jobs will go well beyond line workers. Most likely, engineers, developers, technicians, and a host of support staff will find employment.
Typically, when an automotive manufacturer establishes a new manufacturing plant, suppliers build nearby. What we do not know is the suppliers will share some of the 1,000-plus acres anticipated for VinFast or if they will secure additional property.
250,000 Unit Build Capacity Each Year
That rivals the sweet spot of what vehicles and electric battery systems deliver, which means that all car manufacturing would be accomplished on site. We are seeing a similar arrangement from competing manufacturers with plants handling all facets of construction in one area.
Two VinFast SUVs Are Currently Offered
With crossover utility vehicles in hot demand, the two models we are most likely to see built in North Carolina are SUVs. Indeed, the company has opened the order books for U.S. consumers to purchase its VF 8 and VF 9 SUVs.
For just $200 down, customers can reserve their Vietnam-built model. Further, the two vehicles include e-vouchers of $3,000 and $5,000, respectively. These offers will soon change, however.
Triangle Innovation Point
The Triangle Innovation Point location is one of two mega sites in Chatham County. Both are geared toward attracting large investors and serve as complements to the Research Triangle Park, although they are separate entities.
TIP is located between New Hill and Moncure, just 12 minutes from Sanford in Lee County. Indeed, the property abuts Lee County and is about a half-hour from Raleigh.
Further, it is 10 minutes south of the I-540 interchange, thus supplying ease of access to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Moreover, it is a short drive north of a business aviation airport.
Multiple first-class universities are nearby, including North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. Dozens more community and technical colleges, as well as four-year institutions of higher education, are within an hour’s drive of the plant.
Thus, a highly skilled workforce is in place to serve VinFast and other manufacturers.
Electric Cars and Buses
The VinFast factory will occupy nearly 2,000 acres. The first phase will allow the production of electric cars and buses. It will also supply EV battery production and supplementary industries for suppliers.
Construction is expected to get underway later this year once permitting is accomplished. Production should commence by July 2024. Under the initial phase, VinFast should produce upwards of 150,000 vehicles annually.
Two of the all-electric vehicles identified for the plant are the 7-passenger VF 9 SUV and the 5-passenger VF 8 SUV. Both vehicles will be showcased at the New York International Auto Show in April.
State Tax Incentives
VinFast will make additional investments to support subsequent phases. As for the state, the North Carolina Department of Commerce directed the state’s recruitment of VinFast, along with various state, regional, and local organizations.
Tax abatements and credits from the state are part of the deal and include upwards of $450 million, to deal with site preparations, street improvements, and supplementary water and sewer infrastructure.
Tens of millions of dollars more in taxpayer funds will head to VinFast, depending on the company’s performance. Those disbursements are dependent on annual audits by the state.
“Automotive assembly plants are incredible engines for economic growth, due to the positive ripple effects they create across a region’s economy,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “I’m so pleased that VinFast has decided to launch their North America manufacturing operations from our state, and we’ll work hard to make sure they find the skilled workforce they’ll need to grow and thrive in North Carolina.”
Founded by Vingroup
VinFast is a new automotive manufacturer, launched in 2017 by its parent, Vingroup. With headquarters in Hanoi, Vietnam, the company operates a high-tech vehicle production plant in Hai Phong, Vietnam. When the final phase is completed in 2026, it will have the capacity to produce 950,000 vehicles annually, making it one of the largest automotive plants in the world.
Since its launch, the company has formed global operations in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. In Vietnam, VinFast supplies consumers with e-scooters, electric buses, and electric cars. Further, the company manages a charging station system and supplies additional green energy solutions.
The state says that the average VinFast salary will come in at $51,096, thereby increasing the regional payroll by more than $383 million annually. The Chatham County average annual wage is currently $41,638.
Likely, thousands of additional jobs will be created to support the project directly and indirectly. We also expect a housing boom in the area, specifically from Moncure to Sanford. Like much of North Carolina, the current housing prices are certain to soar.
Additional details about VinFast, TIP, and the state’s involvement in the project will follow. We should learn that North Carolina battled other states for the right to host VinFast, with those costs outlined, including tax abatements, credits, and a long list of other incentives.
Please check back as this is a developing story and one that this Wake County, North Carolina-based publication intends to cover.
Photos courtesy of VinFast. All rights reserved.