VinFast—an electric carmaker backed by Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong—is shipping its first batch of electric sports utility vehicles to the U.S., challenging billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla in his home market.
The 999 VF 8 SUVs were loaded to the Silver Queen—a Panamanian charter ship—in Vietnam’s northern port city of Haiphong on Friday and expected to arrive in California by mid-December, in time for delivery to U.S. customers by year end, VinFast said in a statement. The EVs are part of the 65,000 global orders that the company aims to deliver to customers around the world, with shipments to Canada and Europe expected to arrive in early 2023, it added.
“The export of the first VF 8s is a significant event for VinFast and VinGroup and a proud historical milestone for the Vietnamese automotive industry,” Nguyen Viet Quang, vice chairman and CEO of Vingroup, said. “It affirms that Vietnam has successfully produced high quality electric vehicles that are ready to compete in the international market.”
VinFast has been working on producing EVs to compete in the global market in recent years, beefing up its management by recruiting senior executives from major car manufacturers such as Tesla, BMW, Porsche, Toyota and Nissan. The company has set up branches across the U.S., Canada, and Europe in preparation for the global launch of its smart electric cars.
Besides car manufacturing, VinFast’s controlling shareholder Vuong has interests in real estate, retail, consumer electronics and healthcare through VinGroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate by market value. He is the country’s richest person with a net worth of $4.3 billion, according to the Forbes real-time ranking of billionaires.