Vietnam’s EV maker VinFast plans to start exporting its first electric vehicles to Europe this year, CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy told Reuters.
VinFast has received regulatory approval to sell its EVs in Europe, and the timing could not be better seeing as the EU considers imposing tariffs on its Chinese rivals.
“We expect to deliver the first VF8 models to French, German and Dutch customers in the fourth quarter of this year,” Thuy said. She added that VinFast would launch more models – the VF6, VF7, and VF9 – in the European market in 2024.
An unnamed source familiar with the plan told Reuters that about 3,000 VinFast VF8 electric mid-size crossovers would be delivered to France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel in the fourth quarter. The VF8 EVs will be shipped from VinFast’s plant in northern Vietnam.
VinFast CEO did not disclose how many VF8 SUVs will be delivered to Europe this year. If the information about 3,000 VF8s coming to Europe next quarter is accurate, the region would become the Vietnamese carmaker’s biggest overseas market this year.
Currently, its largest overseas market is the United States, where VinFast shipped about 2,100 VF8 EVs earlier this year and plans to start deliveries of the larger VF9 SUV by the end of 2023.
VinFast originally planned to debut in Europe in the second half of 2022, but the global shortage of semiconductors forced it to push back the launch.
In the first half of this year, VinFast delivered 11,315 electric vehicles, the majority in Vietnam. The company reaffirmed its 2023 delivery target of 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles.
For 2024, the automaker is targeting to enter an additional 50 markets worldwide.
The Vietnamese company’s push into Europe comes as the European Union is launching an investigation into Chinese state subsidies for electric vehicles at a time of fears that cheap imports from China will flood the market.
Chinese carmakers, including EV leader BYD, SAIC-owned MG, Geely-owned Zeekr, EV startups Nio and XPeng, among many other smaller brands, are preparing to increase sales in Europe by launching more affordable products.
In response to the EU’s investigation into Chinese subsidies for EVs, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce described the probe as a “naked protectionist act,” adding that the Chinese EV sector’s competitive advantage does not stem from subsidies. The ministry also said it will “firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”