Vietnamese electric vehicle (EV) maker VinFast is set to make a splash in the European market with the anticipated delivery of its first electric SUVs, the VF8 models, in the fourth quarter of this year. The CEO of VinFast, Le Thi Thu Thuy, revealed that the initial batch of vehicles will be introduced in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
This foray into Europe isn’t just a test drive for VinFast; it’s a strategic move. With the European Union mulling over the imposition of tariffs on Chinese rivals, VinFast’s timing seems rather astute. The company has successfully received the regulatory nod to sell its EVs in Europe, creating a lot of interest in an already vibrant market.
According to an anonymous insider, approximately 3,000 VF8 mid-size crossovers are slated for delivery to France, Germany, the Netherlands, and, interestingly, Israel in the final quarter of the year. These vehicles are set to roll out from VinFast's production hub in northern Vietnam. However, the exact number of VF8 SUVs destined for Europe this year remains undisclosed by the CEO.
VinFast’s expedition to Europe comes as the region is grappling with potential market saturation from Chinese imports. The European Union has initiated an investigation into Chinese state subsidies for electric vehicles, raising eyebrows and concerns about market flooding by affordable Chinese products. Several Chinese carmakers, such as BYD, MG, Zeekr, Nio, and XPeng, want to enhance their presence in Europe with more competitively priced offerings.
Responding to the European Union’s scrutiny, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce labeled the investigation a “naked protectionist act”, stating that the competitive edge of the Chinese EV sector isn’t subsidy-derived. The ministry is committed to staunchly defending the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.
In a twist of irony, or perhaps strategy, if the anonymous tip about the 3,000 VF8s is accurate, Europe is poised to become VinFast’s largest overseas market this year, outpacing the United States. The company had earlier shipped around 2,100 VF8 EVs to the U.S. and has plans to initiate deliveries of the larger VF9 SUV by the end of 2023.
VinFast’s European debut was originally scheduled for the second half of 2022, but a worldwide semiconductor shortage caused a shift in gears, delaying the launch. Despite this setback, the company managed to deliver 11,315 electric vehicles in the first half of this year, predominantly in Vietnam. VinFast remains optimistic, sticking to its 2023 delivery target of 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles.
Looking forward to 2024, VinFast is not just stopping at the European border. The automaker is ambitious, aiming to mark its territory in an additional 50 markets worldwide. This Vietnamese company’s push into foreign territories showcases its determination to become a global player in the EV domain.
In an industry where the rubber meets the road, VinFast is undoubtedly stepping on the gas. However, whether the Vietnamese carmaker can successfully navigate the crowded and competitive European market remains to be seen. With a mixture of strategy, timing, and a dash of luck, VinFast could very well become a household name in the European automotive landscape.