That was the red car, though. Wanting more seat time than our single allotted lap provided, we managed to nab the black VF 8 prototype toward the end of the session. Even though the battery-life display said 74%, it was apparent that a lot of the car's 400-ish horses had left the scene. Whereas the red car accelerated smartly to 60, the black one labored mightily.
We couldn't get a clear theory on the latter's struggles from the VinFast engineer in the back seat, but representatives later explained that the three prototypes were in different stages of development, so idiosyncrasies should be expected. Fair enough, but that makes it hard to draw any broad conclusions about the VF 8's capabilities. For now, let's just say that the red car we drove seemed like a good start.
Pricing and availability
VinFast says the VF 8 is on schedule for an American debut next winter, and its value proposition looks strong at first blush. For example, at the VF 8's current estimated starting price of $41,000, you can only get a single-motor Volkswagen ID.4, which needed a leisurely 7.7 seconds to hit 60 mph in our testing. Adding a second motor to the VW lops a full 2 seconds off that time, putting it neck-and-neck with the VF 8, but your entry price shoots up to just under $45,000.
There's a catch, though. A few days after this trip to Vietnam had ended, VinFast released pricing details on its mandatory battery-leasing program through the end of 2023, which changes the math. Buyers will be required to choose either the Flexible or the Fixed plan, the former running $35 per month for up to 310 miles of use and the latter costing $110 per month for unlimited mileage. If you opt for the Flexible plan and drive more than 310 miles in a given month, you'll pay 11 cents per extra mile. VinFast notes that the battery lease will transfer to the next owner when the current owner sells the car. These extra costs are significant and must be taken into account by prospective VinFast buyers when cross-shopping against other EVs.