- vietnamese automaker vinfast plans to expand to north america with two new electric suvs.
- the compact vf e35 and vf e36 look attractive with styling by pininfarina.
- claimed electric range for the smaller e35 is as high as 310 miles per charge while the larger e36 is supposedly good for up t0 422 miles.
after announcing los angeles as its home base for a new north american operation, vietnamese automaker vinfast is turning its sights on launching two new electric suvs. the company's ambitious plans include production models of the compact vf e35 and the mid-size vf e36. both wear stylish bodies designed by pininfarina and boast claimed driving ranges as high as 422 miles per charge.
two different sized battery packs will be available on each model. the compact vf e35 will come standard with a battery that should deliver around 285 miles per charge but a larger battery with up to 310 miles of range will be optional. the mid-size vf e36 will come with either a 301- or 422-mile range.
vinfast global ceo michael lohscheller told car and driver that the company's first two ev models will initially be produced in vietnam and imported to the u.s. and canada, but that there is a plan to localize production in north america starting in the second half of 2024.
lohscheller also detailed the company's european plans, which includes launching these battery-electric models in germany, france, and the netherlands. while he wouldn't comment on sales goals for either continent, lohscheller acknowledged the plans are ambitious.
"more important is we launch a brand and i think that is a very important and also careful exercise," he said. "obviously everybody has ambitious volume including ourself, but for me most important is that we position the brand right. get our first customers very excited, very happy about that. that matters more than any sales volume."
as shown at the 2021 los angeles auto show, the vf e35 and vf e36 look fairly complete, but similar to other upstart automakers showing production-intent concepts, they need a bit more polish before heading to production. the interior of the e35, also styled by pininfarina, appears to be stylish and comfortable–although we were unable to sit inside it at the show. the e36 doesn't appear to be as close to being production ready as the smaller model, as it was displayed without an interior at all.
"our biggest push initially will be on simplification and safety, said david lyon, director of design for vinfast. "we don't have a traditional gauge cluster like most oems, our vehicles all have a full color, windshield projection head-up display. it's a very open, spacious interior. you interface with the steering wheel controls to operate the vehicle, your hands are on the wheel, and your eyes are on the road."
vinfast won't have a traditional dealership sales model; instead it's looking to adopt a direct-sales model as pioneered by electric-vehicle rival tesla. reservations open in spring 2022 and deliveries are said to be on track for fall 2022. early adopters can also expect a sort of concierge-style servicing model for their cars where a traveling technician can meet up to perform repairs or maintenance.
"we will hire lots of service people who will come to your house, said lohscheller. "if you have a problem obviously we will fix it digitally if it can be done, if not we come to your house and either fix it there or we give you a replacement car and we fix it in our service shops."
pricing has not been announced but lohscheller explained that one of the purchasing options will involve a battery rental program which will allow buyers to swap to a more advanced battery in the future when one becomes available.
"so you buy the car, but if you're worried that maybe the next generation battery is much better, you can just rent your battery and go to the next generation battery after that," he said.
the company will focus first on the california market before expanding to other states and plans to eventually open as many as 60 showrooms so prospective customers can come see the suvs for themselves and consider their options.