In the rapidly growing industry of electrification, few manufacturers cater to demographics outside of high income brackets. Even fewer brands offer the same comforts and customer-centric designs afforded to luxury vehicles to more accessibly priced cars. This is something VinFast—a startup based in Vietnam (“Fast” is an acronym for style, safety, creative and pioneering in Vietnamese)—executes with exciting precision in their new five-passenger, all-electric midsize SUV, the VF 8. Open for reservations now with delivery expected in the second half of the year, the VF 8 is a diverse and accessible entry (priced from around $40,700) into electrification from the first electric vehicle manufacturers in Vietnam.
When behind the wheel, the VF 8 (in either of its two editions: the eco or plus) feels like a powerhouse, boasting 348hp for the eco and 402hp the plus. With a torque of 368 ft-lb and an acceleration speed from 0 to 100kmh in 5.9 seconds, the SUV certainly makes for a smooth, thrilling ride. A battery capacity of 87.7 kWh that can last up to 292 miles on a single charge endows the vehicles with as much longevity as it does power, bolstering its practical, function-oriented approach.
Outside, a long wheelbase, sloping roofline and dynamic side creases elongate the vehicle while adding depth to its sleek finish. More than aesthetics though, these details enhance the car’s aerodynamic efficiency which helps to maximize range and performance.
Inside, a sense of luxury, spaciousness and comfort permeate, helped along by the team at Pininfarina, who VinFast partnered with to execute a clean, customer-focused vision. One will be pleasantly surprised to find the seats are made from vegan leather given their creamy, soft materiality. Thanks to Pininfarina’s hand-cut and hand-sewn material and detailing, however, the seats are elevated to the touch. Elsewhere, the interior of the VF 8 emphasizes elevated design as the seats, as well as the steering wheel, feature heated options. Throughout, the car maximizes storage and legroom, which chrome and contrasting side-door finishes complement with a little edge.
When it comes to smart technology, the amenities of the VF 8 were as carefully designed to improve the ride and life of the driver (and passengers) as its interior aesthetics and are happily not bogged down with total automation of the driving process. Safety and driving features like Traffic Jam Assist, Highway Assist, Lane Keep and Center Control, Auto Lane Change, Fully Automated Parking Assistance and Smart Home Control equip the car with an ease of use and provide stress-reducing support to drivers. From wireless charging options to syncable phone and contacts, the technological features of the VF 8 were crafted with consumers in mind, offering them the luxury to save time and energy with smart, nifty conveniences.
Currently, the cars are produced in VinFast’s almost fully automated facility in Haiphong, Vietnam which will have the capacity to produce 950,000 cars per year by 2026. As a startup that launched in 2017, the carmaker’s quick rise and successive unveiling of five electric models—the VF 5, VF 6, VF 7, VF 8 and VF 9—is nothing short of impressive. Already, the company is planning on expanding to a factory in North Carolina, which is slated to begin construction this year, with production starting in July 2024. As a member of a private conglomerate, VinGroup, the entire network of companies has provided over 100,000 jobs to people in Vietnam; they also pay three to four times more than typical employers in the country. In North Carolina, the group hopes to continue fostering these same opportunities for others.
Despite being a nascent company, VinFast is undoubtedly diversifying the industry, propelled by a sense to do good both for consumers and the planet. As their powerful, sleek fleet can attest, the carmaker is continuing to expand the market, bringing the comforts and qualities of sophisticated vehicles to more affordable options.
Innovation is also built into their long-term plans. As the chief designer of VinFast, David Lyon tells us, “Vietnam is one of the largest buyers of the world’s plastic waste. It would be really interesting to find a way to make a material with that plastic to use in the cars.” With thoughtful ideation like this, we look forward to following what the company does next.
Images courtesy of VinFast