Vietnam's VinFast Wants a Big Piece of the EV Pie

Vietnam's VinFast Wants a Big Piece of the EV Pie

Two new SUVs will lead an assault on the global EV market

  • New five-passenger and seven-passenger electric SUVs
  • Dual-motor all-wheel drive, reportedly up to 340 miles of range on the WLTP cycle
  • Upscale design, materials and technology

What the heck is VinFast?

A division of Vietnam's Vingroup conglomerate, VinFast is a new electric vehicle company that has gone from nonexistent to preparing the global launch of two SUVs in less than five years. VinFast unveiled the 2023 VF e35 and 2023 VF e36 this week at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show, and while details about the Pininfarina-penned EVs are scant, we've pieced together what intelligence exists to give you an idea of what these two new electrics offer.

VinFast VF e35

A five-passenger midsize crossover SUV, the VF e35 showcases what VinFast's chief design officer, David Lyon, calls the automaker's "Dynamic Balance" design language. Wearing a collection of soft forms and crisp lines, the VF e35 reminds us a little of the Lincoln Nautilus, but with VinFast's distinctive V-shaped front and rear lighting signatures. Bet you can't guess why they take the form of a V.

Inside, VinFast channels Tesla with a single 15.5-inch touchscreen display that drivers will use to control just about everything. Transmission buttons grace the center console, but the only other controls are found on the steering wheel and door panels. Fortunately, it appears VinFast thinks power window switches are wise. Good move.

Lyon characterizes the cabin as handcrafted, and you'll find the perforated leather surfaces and contrast stitching that typically signal luxury. A strip of trim resembling carbon fiber adds a technical touch, while a panoramic glass roof bathes the interior in natural light. A color head-up display projects critical information directly in the driver's line of sight.

VinFast did not share official details about power and performance. An Automotive News report says the VF e35 has an 86-kilowatt-hour battery pack juicing dual electric motors, one at each axle. Total power reportedly measures 300 kilowatts, and the VF e35 should travel 310 miles on a full battery, as measured on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). Typically, range estimates from the EPA are lower.

VinFast VF e36

Larger and equipped with three rows of seats, the VF e36 has a more traditional SUV design. It loses the odd lidded lights found on the VF e35 and has a more rugged appearance thanks to its chiseled flanks. The long, low and fast roofline with its pinched roof pillar treatment and wraparound rear glass makes the VF e36 especially appealing.

A wider dashboard and center console fill the VF e36's cabin, and the design puts the touchscreen display within closer reach of the driver and front passenger. The technology supports over-the-air software updates, so it stays current over time. Owners can customize the data shown on the screen, and a one-swipe Zen Mode turns the screen into a digital picture frame, according to Lyon. VinFast has previously announced that the infotainment system offers natural voice recognition and a digital voice assistant that you rouse by saying "Hey, VinFast."

Automotive News reports that the VF e36 uses the same front and rear electric motors as the VF e35, but a 96-kWh battery provides 340 miles (WLTP) of range.

More cool VinFast stuff

Both of VinFast's new EVs will have advanced driver assist systems. They include the expected features plus a fully automated parking system with a summon function that is similar to what Tesla offers. A Smart Security traffic and driver monitoring system is also in the works.

Lastly, VinFast said it will offer a 10-year warranty for both models but did not disclose what the warranty covers.

Edmunds says

Fittingly, VinFast debuted the VF e35 and VF e36 in Los Angeles, not far from its North American headquarters. But it takes more than a splashy reveal at a big auto show to crack the U.S. consumer code. Just ask Geely.

In any case, of the two upcoming VinFast SUVs, we like the VF e36. It has the right look, it has the right size, and it appears ready to siphon customers who might otherwise choose the upcoming Lucid Gravity or Rivian R1S, not to mention the Hyundai Ioniq 7 and Kia EV9.

We'll know soon enough if the automaker's V-shaped lighting signature stands for vaporware in addition to Vietnam, Vingroup and VinFast. The company plans to start taking orders by the middle of 2022, with the first U.S. customer deliveries taking place by the end of next year.

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