- As VinFast inches closer to its first US deliveries in December, the Vietnamese-founded company reveals two additional crossover models for the global market, known as the VF6 and VF7, slated for production in third-quarter 2023.
- The VF6 is a compact crossover while the VF7 is positioned as a midsize option akin to the Mazda CX-50 or Honda CR-V.
- Both models will be split into Eco or Plus trims, with a power range of 174 hp to 201 hp for the VF6 and 201 hp to 349 hp for the VF7, in addition to retaining VinFast’s 10-year vehicle and lifetime battery warranties.
If companies like Tesla and Lucid are disruptors of the traditional automotive landscape, then the startup brand known as VinFast is part of the disruptive ranks as well. Founded in Hanoi, Vietnam, and based in Singapore, VinFast is a five-year-old electric crossover and SUV producer that aims to compete with the rising tide of EVs coming from legacy assembly lines.
And the company, founded by Vietnamese billionaire Phạm Nhật Vượng, came to the Los Angeles Auto Show with force this year.
Specifically, the manufacturer revealed two new global models, the 2024 VF6 and VF7. After the 2021 reveal of the company’s midsize VF8 and three-row VF9 models, the new smaller models are set to provide a full-size run of America’s most popular body style.
In true VinFast fashion, the exterior of the VF6 and VF7 were both produced by Italian design house Torino, falling in line with the Pininfarina-penned VF8 and VF9. As a result, the VinFast model line embodies a European look inspired by Renault and Jaguar.
Pricing, specific battery capacity, and range details have yet to be released, but we do know some of the important dimensions for the incoming models. Both feature two trims, Eco and Plus, which will coincide with the power figures and interior build. For the VF6, Eco models feature 174 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque while Plus models have 201 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque, all fed through the front wheels.
Differences inside include an all-vegan “leather” interior and panoramic glass roof on the Plus, as compared to the steel roof and cloth plus vegan leather blend interior on the Eco. Either way, the chassis stays the same, with a 107.5-inch wheelbase, 71.7-inch width, and 62.8-inch height. That’s a relatively short wheelbase for a compact crossover, comparable to a Kia Nero EV or a Volkswagen ID.4.
The VF7, on the other hand, is more like a Mazda CX-50 in size, with a 111.8-inch wheelbase, 74.4-inch width, and 64.4-inch height. Eco versions of the VF7 feature the same powertrain as the Plus VF6, with 201 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque running through the front wheels.
Power figures are significantly increased on the VF7 Plus, with 349 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque put down through a dual-electric motor all-wheel-drive system. Cloth seats and a steel roof adorn the Eco version while premium vegan “leather” and a panoramic glass roof can be found inside the Plus.
Given that both models feature less horsepower than the preceding models, it’s likely these models will have a smaller battery capacity and less range as compared to the 260-369 mile distance previously offered on the VF8/9. Additionally, the power and amenities of the $57,000 VF8 and $76,000 VF9 suggest the VF6 and VF7 will be priced significantly lower, in an effort to fill every possible crossover and SUV market segment.
Those prices include the battery cost, though VinFast does offer a battery subscription package in which a monthly fee is charged for VinFast to bear the responsibility of battery repairs, maintenance, and replacement costs for the life of the vehicle. Pricing is currently set at $169 a month for the VF8 and $219 for the VF9.
Prototype units were shown at the LA Auto Show with a remarkable build quality and somewhat competitive interiors. Missing a traditional instrument cluster, both the VF6 and VF7 make use of center console-mounted screens for infotainment, though the VF7 uses a slightly larger 15.6-inch version. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa voice-assistant are all standard, in addition to an integrated navigation assistance software known as what3words.
“What we've done is divided the world into small squares, 57 trillion 10-foot by 10-foot squares,” explained Giles Rhys Jones, whats3words’ chief marketing officer, in an interview with Autoweek. “And then we’ve allocated each one of those squares a unique three-word identifier. We take GPS coordinates—latitude and longitude—and we convert them to words.”
Instead of having to pin an exact location or send an address, whats3words works with navigation apps like Waze or Google to pinpoint unorthodox locations and navigate there. And while VinFast isn’t the only manufacturer to be using whats3words’ code, with legacy manufacturers like Subaru and Mercedes joining in, it’s a sign that VinFast wants to be part of the automotive landscape.
Another note that VinFast is eager to incentivize early adopters and EV fanatics is its 10-year warranty that applies to both the vehicle and battery. This warranty program is a carry-over from the original VF8 and VF9 models, which are equipped with 82-87.7-kWh batteries or 92-123-kWh batteries, respectively. This program builds on the company’s battery leasing strategy.
VinFast’s efforts are beginning to pay off, with the company announcing a 2500-vehicle order from Autonomy, the US-based electric car subscription service. Additionally, the company has received $2 billion in investments for its impending Chatham County, North Carolina, plant, while also opening six mall-style retail locations in California.
For now, the future of VinFast in the US remains questionable. The first US deliveries of Vietnamese-manufactured VF8 and VF9 models are set for December, while production of the new VF6 and VF7 is set for third-quarter 2023.
LMC Automotive projects a total year-end sales number of 1526 units. With almost 65,000 reservations globally, VinFast says the US could account for half of its global sales by 2025.
That is, if the cars can truly compete with legacy manufacturers in price, quality, and range. As models make their way to the US, stay tuned for updates and a drive review in the future.
Are you optimistic about US prospects for VinFast, or do you expect it to end up like so many other failed EV startups? Please comment below.