HAI PHONG, Vietnam, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast said on Friday it had shipped its first batch of 999 cars to the United States, capping off a five-year bid to develop a car production center in the Southeast Asian country. for the North American and European markets.
The first cars are expected to be delivered to customers in late December, the company said.
VinFast chief executive Le Thi Thu Thuy said some of the VF 8 electric SUVs to ship on Friday will be sent to US car subscription service Autonomy, but most will go to retail buyers who ordered the car.
Thuy said VinFast hoped to be able to ship a second batch of cars to the United States, its first export market, around January.
VinFast is in the process of building an electric vehicle plant in North Carolina that is awaiting final regulatory approval from local officials.
Thuy said the company hoped to start production at the North Carolina factory beginning in July 2024 and that electric vehicles built there would qualify for incentives under the terms of the Inflation Reduction Act signed by the president of the United States. United, Joe Biden.
The Inflation Reduction Act, as currently written, requires automakers to source 50% of the critical minerals used in electric vehicle batteries from North America or US allies. by 2024, increasing to 80% by the end of 2026.
Major automakers have said those targets are unrealistic and it was not immediately clear how VinFast would meet the sourcing requirements.
“The IRA was a surprise to all of us, but it doesn’t really affect our strategy in the US,” Thuy told Reuters. “As soon as we start building cars in the US, our customers will be eligible (for) the tax incentive.”
VinFast said last week that Autonomy had ordered 2,500 electric vehicles, its largest corporate order to date. VinFast has said it has almost 65,000 orders worldwide in total and expects to sell 750,000 electric vehicles a year by 2026.
The North Carolina factory project is months behind schedule, according to the company’s initial targets, and the first shipment of electric vehicles made by VinFast missed the initial goal of delivering up to 5,000 cars made at its Haiphong factory by December .
VinFast officials said the number 999 was chosen for the vehicles shipped in the first batch because it is considered a lucky number in Vietnam.
“There is no luckier number than 999,” Thuy said. The Panama-chartered transport ship used to send the first shipment of VinFast electric vehicles had the capacity to carry up to 2,000 vehicles, authorities said.
Shares of VinFast’s publicly traded parent company Vingroup, which also has resort and property development businesses, rose 5.41% on Friday morning.
Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Written by Kevin Krolicki; Edited by Ed Davies and Edmund Klamann
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