Vinfast on Thursday opened its first United States retail stores in California, and announced $1.2 billion in incentives from North Carolina for a planned factory in the state.
Located in Santa Monica, San Mateo, San Diego, Commerce, Berkeley, and Corte Madera, the stores are the first of 30 Vinfast plans to open in California, the Vietnamese automaker said in a press release. Vinfast also aims to expand its retail footprint to other states in the future. Vinfast previously said it will start U.S. deliveries of its VF 8 and VF 9 electric SUVs before the end of the year.
Vinfast plans to employ three store configurations, designated 1S, 2S, and 3S. The 1S version is relatively small and designed for shopping centers, according to the company. It will have vehicles on display but no parts or service capability.
The 2S store configuration will offer parts and sales, primarily in support of nearby 1S showrooms or in areas with high concentrations of customers, the release said. The largest 3S stores will have both showrooms and service centers, and will handle car and parts sales.
As it christened the first California retail stores, on the opposite coast Vinfast accepted a $1.2 billion incentive package from the state of North Carolina. In a separate release, Vinfast called it the largest economic incentive package in North Carolina history. Local governments have pledged incentives as well.
The factory itself was announced in March, and is scheduled to start building vehicles in 2024. Vinfast said it will invest $2 billion in the first phase of construction at the 2,000-acre site, which is located in Chatham County, near the state capital of Raleigh. The annual production is 150,000 vehicles, encompassing both electric cars and buses.
The North Carolina factory will eventually build VF 8 and VF 9 SUVs for the U.S. market, but initial allocations will be sourced from Vinfast's existing Vietnam factory.
We got an up-close look at the VF 8 and VF 9 in February, while another look at April's New York auto show didn't see the cars looking at a production level yet. A background drive in April also found the VF 8 needing some development and fine-tuning yet—making the goal of deliveries yet this year look increasingly far-fetched.
That said, as we've underscored, the established company appears very determined to meet its vehicle goals, and it's moving much faster than startups.
Vinfast has also priced its vehicles around a mandatory battery subscription program—the first model of its kind. So, ambitious plans aside, there remain plenty of unknowns as Vinfast prepares to enter the U.S. market.