VinFast continues to move rapidly into the US market, and this week, the company broke ground at the site of its new factory in Chatham County, North Carolina.
VinFast invited us out to the groundbreaking ceremony of the North Carolina plant, and arriving on the scene, it felt like a party had been stood up in the middle of a lot cleared out of the dense North Carolina forest. All of the pomp and circumstance we experienced at the global media launch in Vietnam had been transported to the North Carolina factory site 40 minutes outside of Raleigh.
A contingent of VinFast employees welcomed a host of local and automotive media, with numerous local government officials buzzing around excitedly. Talk of how the project would impact their constituents and their particular area of focus was hot on everyone’s lips. The new project is massive and will bring a host of improvements to the rural area, including new rail lines, new jobs, utilities, traffic flow, and highway expansions.
VinFast has done its homework, embedding its US production strategy deep into the local community. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper credited the educated local workforce for the selection of VinFast’s first factory in the US in North Carolina. “The credit goes to the hard working well trained diverse workforce in North Carolina,” Cooper said. “Those people who are the very best in the country.”
North Carolina has also positioned itself to be a favorable place for businesses to come and has doubled down since the introduction of the most recent federal stimulus bill. “We have to be focused on doing is make sure that the American people and the people of North Carolina win in that global economy,” Cooper continued. “You do that by attracting companies from all over the world to come to your country and to your state and create those jobs right here.”
The first phase of the factory will support an annual production of 150,o00 vehicles when fully ramped up. It will produce both the well known VinFast VF8 and its larger sibling, the 7-seater VF9, which has yet to go on sale here in the US. VinFast launched sales of its VF8 crossover electric vehicle a few months ago, and early reviews have flagged numerous issues with the vehicle.
The start of construction at the new factory site comes as VinFast continues to struggle to establish itself in the local market. Early VF8s are at dealerships but enter the market without much in the way of service centers to support them in the event of issues. The majority of the issues within passed vehicles seem to be rooted in software which can theoretically be updated over the air, but some are just plain physical defects or material quality issues in the vehicles.
These will require service center visits and mechanical fixes in the swapping out of parts. It’s hard to say if VinFast will succeed, but it’s clear that both on the customer front and now on the construction and production front, it has its work cut out for it if it’s going to have any shot at surviving in the US.
Disclaimer: VinFast paid for the author’s travel and accommodations to attend this event.
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