VinFast can’t seem to make up its mind about how, when, and for how much to sell its vehicles. Recently, the automaker announced that the first round of U.S.-bound vehicles had left its home country of Vietnam. That was after it backtracked on a decision to sell vehicles with a battery subscription instead of pricing them outright. Most recently, Automotive News reported that VinFast is holding onto the 999 vehicles it shipped here last year for software updates.
VinFast, the Vietnamese automotive startup that showcased five electric vehicles at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), has said it’ll be expanding the lineup planned for North America. With midsize offerings already slated for export, the company used the Los Angeles Auto Show to show off the subcompact VF6 and compact VF7 – adding that it’ll also be shipping those units our way for the 2024 model year.
At the dawn of automobiles, there were tremendously more brands from which to choose in America than there are today. With the rapid transition to all things electric, new companies are sprouting up faster than dandelions on your author’s lawn. Rivian, Lucid, Tesla – actually, when Tesla is the newest company in a particular group of examples, you know the landscape is changing rapidly.
Next out of the gate? A company from Vietnam called VinFast. Last night at CES, they hauled the covers off five different EVs, all of them shaped like crossovers ranging in size from S to XXL.
Real-estate conglomerate Vingroup JSC’s auto unit, VinFast, rolled out its first model today, which also means Vietnam officially has a automaker. Starting with the Fadil hatchback, VinFast eventually plans to produce a sedan, sport utility vehicle, and some electric motorbikes.
VinFast’s primary goals include flexing Vietnam’s burgeoning industrial abilities while supporting the country with affordable vehicles citizens might be interested in. Easier said than done when the nation’s average annual income is around $2,600. Yet Vietnam is growing by leaps and bounds, supplying more individuals with the means to purchase their own car.
I have a question about driving style that I’d like to pose to you and the B&B. Part of my highway commute is a steady 2 mile grade. With a running start of 75 mph, my 2007 Mazda B2300 slows to about 62 mph by the top of the hill when I keep it in 5th gear, with the engine turning about 2000 rpm. I can maintain 70+ if I drop into 4th and floor it, but I’m a cheapskate at heart. My question is, is it really more efficient to lug up the hill in top gear, or am I just kidding myself and doing irreparable damage to my engine?
Ho Chi Minh was a mysterious guy; even after reading the definitive biography of the revolutionary schemer who changed pseudonyms as often most of us change our socks, I still couldn’t tell you much about the man who is now his country’s equivalent of all of America’s Founding Fathers rolled into one. However, I can tell you what Ho Chi Minh drove!
Having suffered behind the wheel of a few rented Corollas during my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons Circus, I’m here to tell you that the current generation of Corolla— the version you get in rental fleets, at any rate— is one of the least fun motor vehicles you can buy. I am convinced that the suits at Toyota have ordered their top engineers to devise a Fun Prevention Control Module™ for the Corolla, a little box under the dash that does everything from preventing you from finding a good song on the radio to ensuring that you will never, ever be able to pull off even a half-assed e-brake turn in a muddy racetrack paddock. With the FPCM™ in full effect, you’ll drive your Corolla for hundreds of thousands of trouble- and fun-free miles, all the while fantasizing about setting the thing on fire and giving some crackhead $119 for a much more fun ’95 Mercury Mystique rolling on three space-saver spares. So, it came as a shock when I spotted this Corolla-hustling ad on a Saigon Toyota dealership during my recent trip to Vietnam.
During my visit to Vietnam last month, I photographed many Honda Super Cubs, but I always kept one eye open for other interesting vehicles. I spotted a few Toyota Crown Royal Saloons, which was cool, but catching a
Geo Chevrolet Tracker at a Hanoi intersection was one of the weirder sightings. Studying the photograph later, I realized that three of the four (non-two-wheeled) vehicles in the frame were GM products that show the breadth of The General’s Asian empire.
For about 15 years, the Civic and the Accord were untouchable in the American marketplace; Honda sold all they could build here plus as many as they could import under the limitations of the Voluntary Export Restraint agreement of 1981. Then… well, Soichiro Honda died and Honda sort of lost its way. Sure, their cars were still good, but the competition had caught up and the Honda magic had worn off for American car buyers. Honda car sales in Japan had never been so great, so what kept Honda going through the lean times? Two-wheelers! I spent two weeks in Vietnam last month and came away with a new appreciation for Honda’s utter dominance of the Asian motorbike market.
I just spent two weeks on vacation in Vietnam, and my pre-trip expectations of seeing fleets of left-behind-by-the-French Peugeots, left-behind-by-the-Americans Falcons, and left-behind-by-the-Soviets GAZs turned out to be ridiculously inaccurate. I saw a few old cars (more on that later), but most of the cars in Vietnam are boring late-model rides like Kia Rios and Toyota Innovas. However, I did see quite a few conspicuous-consumption statusmobiles in Saigon and Hanoi; the grumbling old-time revolutionary veterans no doubt refer to the current Hanoi leadership as CINOs. Here’s an example I spotted near St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
The U.S.A. dispatches its Secretary of State to complain to Japan about less than 8000 vehicles exported from the U.S. not benefiting from the Japanese cash-o for clunker-u. At the same time, a new car market is starting to explode, without anybody noticing: Vietnam.
Vietnam imported 76,300 units in 2009, nearly 10 times the U.S. exports to Japan. The increase was 51 percent on the year, an all-time high, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Sales of domestically manufactured vehicles were 115,000 units in 2009, up only 3 percent, but still a record. A total market of some 200,000 units is not much compared to neighbor China, but it’s a strong start.
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- Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
- 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
- 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
- Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
- Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.