In the relentless race to win over the electric vehicle market, automakers are constantly seeking to break the mold and present innovative alternatives. Enter VinFast's latest contender: the VF3 mini crossover.
Hailing from Vietnam, and originally designed specifically for that market, VinFast VF3 is no longer staying local. It has set its eyes on a much bigger prize - the American automotive arena. After a somewhat lukewarm launch of its larger SUVs - the VF8 and VF9 - the company is considering adding this tiny EV to its US fleet.
The VF3, initially designed with the Vietnamese consumer in mind, may soon find itself zipping through American urban streets. Compact yet assertive, the vehicle has a diminutive stature of 122.6 inches in length - yes, that’s a whole 10 inches shorter than the Baojun Yep, a similar model co-produced by GM and its Chinese collaborators, SAIC and Wuling.
Interestingly, VinFast remains coy about the specifics of the VF3’s electric battery and motor. What they have emphasized is its commendable travel range (VinFast did not disclose an actual number though), which aligns perfectly with the daily commute and driving habits of the average Vietnamese motorist. Given its dimensions and market intent, one can safely speculate that the VF3 houses a solitary motor driving its two wheels.
It's easy to dismiss the VF3 as just another EV in an oversaturated market. However, the compact EV has already charmed potential VinFast dealers in the US. They're not just impressed; they're practically imploring the Vietnamese automaker to ship the VF3 stateside as an economical EV alternative.
While VinFast navigates the waters of market research and analyzes the demand for the VF3 in the US, it’s clear that the initial response has been overwhelmingly positive. During recent meetings with prospective dealers in Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas, a life-sized foam replica of the VF3 became the star of the show. As Duke Hale, an adviser to VinFast, quipped, the enthusiasm for the VF3 was almost unanimous. The rationale? Probable pricing south of $20,000.
A sub-$20,000 VF3 would be a game-changer, potentially earning it the title of America's most economical EV. Sure the dealers are excited about a new cheap and cheerful EV but will the customers join them and vote with their wallets? Is America ready for an EV that’s barely bigger than the Walmart shopping cart? Is the price enough to sway people away from 7-seat SUVs and into what’s basically a shoebox on wheels?
Beyond the VF3, VinFast's US ambitions are evident. They've confirmed the introduction of four other models - all crossovers. The list includes the mid-sized VF8 (currently available in California), the three-row VF9 with a starting price of $83,000, the VF6 subcompact, and the VF7 compact. To further solidify their commitment, they're establishing a production hub right in North Carolina.
VinFast had a bumpy start in the US followed by a rather explosive but short-lived IPO from which the company hasn’t recovered yet. A sub-$20,000 electric vehicle is on everybody’s shopping list but the compromise on dimensions may be a big problem for many buyers. Or we are completely wrong and the VF3 is exactly what the world needs.