Vietnam is out to prove you can have communism and cars. There’s the very first Vietnam Grand Prix coming up next year, but first, the country is launching VinFast, its very own car brand with styling by Pininfarina.
While Vietnam has had a ton of car manufacturing for decades building cars from foreign brands, VinFast is the country’s first domestic automotive brand. It’s actually starting off reasonable with a $US17,000 ($24,742) hatchback called the Fadil that’s based on the Opel Karl Rocks hatchback (pictured below), along with the Pininfarina-designed and BMW-based Lux A2.0 sedan (pictured at the top of this post) and Lux SA2.0 SUV (pictured more below).
Interestingly, the company’s website doesn’t include a single image of the rebadged hatchback. I guess they want you focused on their other upcoming cars, so here’s the Opel version, which is almost identical (according to Bloomberg’s photos I can’t share here).
The new brand is set to begin deliveries to customers this week, according to Bloomberg:
The first VinFast rollout, a hatchback named Fadil, is initially priced at 394.5 million dong ($US16,900 ($24,596)). Vingroup said in 2017 it planned to invest up to $US3.5 ($5) billion in its auto business. The company will also produce a sedan, sport utility vehicle and electric motorbikes.
VinFast plans to make 250,000 vehicles during a first stage of operations, with projected production increasing to 500,000 vehicles a year by 2025. Last year, the company said it expects to begin exports in mid-2020.
The good news is that Vietnam’s car sales are up 18 per cent over the first five months of last year, which makes this the perfect time to hop into the car game. VinFast claimed it received 10,000 preorders over the last year.
VinFast is sort of taking the Taco Bell menu approach to its cars, pulling a bunch of ingredients from various other car recipes to make something new, as Bloomberg explains:
The vehicles aren’t completely made in Vietnam. The Fadil uses the chassis of the Karl Rocks model by PSA Group’s Opel. The sedan and SUV are built on frames from BMW AG, designed by Italian design house Pininfarina and have components engineered by Magna Steyr. Jim Deluca, the former vice president of global manufacturing for General Motors Co., was hired as VinFast’s chief executive officer.
Vingroup embraced the government’s aspirations to see domestic manufacturers make high-value products for the nation’s growing middle class in an economy that has expanded at an average clip of 6.6% since 2000 — boosting annual incomes to almost $US2,600 ($3,784) from about $US400 ($582).
For now it seems like VinFast is targeting its local market’s growing middle class, with plans to expand in Asia and eventually go global.
I would just like to point out that I, a free American, can not currently afford to buy a brand-new car styled by iconic Italian styling house Pininfarina. But apparently the growing middle class of Vietnam will soon have that opportunity.