VinFast electric vehicles have arrived in the US for the first time after the company, a unit of Vietnam’s Vingroup, said it made a delayed delivery to California drivers.
The 45 SUVs arriving from Vietnam are a small fraction of the 999 EVs that were supposed to reach the US, starting in December.
Software problems postponed the delivery until March 2. It marks a small step in the long-deferred dream of Vietnam’s richest man, Vingroup founder Pham Nhat Vuong, of getting Vietnamese cars on to American roads. Cracking the US market has been a challenge for rivals in countries from China to Malaysia.
VinFast has faced a slow rollout in the US, where it aims to start building EVs in North Carolina in 2024 even though it only received a key construction permit last month. A US stock listing has not materialised yet, despite several reports of an imminent public offering.
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“It’s extremely gratifying in fulfilling our delivery promise and to witness the excitement our customers have,” VinFast deputy CEO Gareth Dunsmore said of the handover in Los Angeles.
The automaker has not made its debut with US drivers at an easy time. Weak demand has pushed down sales and share prices at EV start-up Rivian, and forced Tesla to slash prices, a move that VinFast followed.
The lossmaking arm of Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate faces supply hurdles, too, amid fierce competition for battery minerals. Moreover, it will not be eligible for some US subsidies until the North Carolina factory enters production.
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