Vingroup’s VinFast has unveiled a two-door “mini” electric vehicle for Vietnam, where millions of drivers retain a penchant for motorbikes that can go down sidewalks and squeeze between centuries-old buildings.
The jeep-like five-seater is just 3.1 meters long, the EV maker said late on Thursday. Compact cars average more than 4 meters.
Despite an intense focus on the U.S. — the first foreign market where VinFast sold (and then recalled) EVs, and the location of its planned stock market listing — the company has made a recent regional push. It announced a foray into other Southeast Asian countries in May and introduced a $23,000 electric car, its cheapest, for Vietnam in April.
VinFast said its latest model, the VF 3, will be delivered in the third quarter of 2024 and be “accessibly priced for mass appeal,” without giving a figure.
The car design is “dedicated to the distinctive characteristics and driving patterns of domestic consumers,” said the well-connected automaker, founded by Vietnam’s richest man.
Amid delays in constructing subways and roads, 70 million drivers have stuck to the ease of scooters that allow them to slip down narrow alleys and one-lane rural paths in the fast-growing country.
Chinese rivals are starting to stream into Vietnam, including BYD and Hongguang with its Mini EV — touted as a USD 4,500 “alternative to walking,” though import taxes may mean a higher local price. VinFast, which dominates domestic EV sales, aims to sell to motorists in Europe and Canada, as well as build a factory in North Carolina for cars, buses, and batteries.
“VF 3 has the potential to become the new ‘national vehicle’ for the Vietnamese people,” the company said. “It can help fulfill the ‘car dreams’ of millions of families while improving living standards and serving as a powerful catalyst for the widespread adoption of electric cars in Vietnam.”