The first post-Covid car show, the Mondial de l’auto currently taking place in Paris, has nothing to do with previous editions. Exit the abundance of salons, we would be satisfied with two and a half (3, 4 and 6). Identical situation with a very scarce list of exhibitors, where the Germans and other beautiful English and Italians are lacking.
This is what makes the business of the Chinese manufacturers BYD and Great Wall Motors (Wey and Ora) to land in force with XXL stands in which different models are displayed. But the competition is not just Chinese. In fact, another Asian manufacturer decided to throw spoilers and demonstrate to the automotive sector, including the Chinese, that it had to be taken into account. This is VinFast, a Vietnamese manufacturer owned by Vingroup, the private conglomerate of multi-billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong.
This is not the first time VinFast has paraded in Paris. We recall that in the 2018 edition of the Parisian World Cup, the brand made a remarkable entry by offering the services of footballer David Beckham and Miss Vietnam. I’m not sure visitors noticed the two vehicles at their booth: a five-seater sedan (Lux A2.0) and a seven-seater SUV (Lux AS2.0). The operation will be repeated in 2019 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
In November 2021, the brand was officially launched at the Los Angeles Auto Show, followed by a strong presence in January 2022 at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. There was only one major global event to establish its notoriety, namely the Mondial de Paris.
VinFast spared no expense with a huge stand with four electric models, the VF6, VF7, VF8 and VF9, the spearheads of the offensive that aims to conquer the European market without complexes.
As it is Europe, the Vietnamese manufacturer takes advantage of the Paris Motor Show to detail its strategy with the installation of three headquarters in France (Paris), Germany (Frankfurt) and Holland (Amsterdam).
VinFast aspires to an even greater achievement: to become an all-electric brand valued in crucial European markets.
This tripartite choice is not a passing fad, as these three markets – with the exception of Norway – are the most active in the electric vehicle segment. Furthermore, it is about “provide an optimal level of service to customers, guided by a thorough understanding of country-specific requirements”. Specifically, the brand will develop its “extensive direct-to-consumer network and deploy mobile service to ensure a premium customer experience”.
On the ground, this will mean the opening of a first VinFast store in Cologne (Germany), followed before the end of 2022 by Paris, Nice, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg. The start of 2023 will be a great start with other outlets in Oberhausen, Marseille, Rennes, Montpellier, Metz, The Hague and Rotterdam.
To date, despite the lack of available vehicles, a mobile service has been launched in Germany, which will be extended “for all of Europe in the first quarter of 2023”. VinFast wants to hire more than 200 technicians in the next 12 months.
It remains an open question about the VinFast models coming out of production plants in Hai Phong, Vietnam. Will a factory see the light of day in Europe? The question is legitimate after the call from Emmanuel Macron who, from the first day of the fair, appealed to European solidarity in the purchase of electric vehicles. Clearly favoring European production, like the American and Chinese electricity markets. Nationality does not matter as long as it is produced in Europe.
Although the Old Continent is “an important market for VinFast”the vietnamese manufacturer “continue to look for a suitable location for a European factory”. In January 2022, Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vice President of Vingroup and CEO of VinFast, said: “The era of car transport around the world is over, especially since Covid-19 […] You have to have the factory close to the market to win over your customers.” At the time, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung speculated about the possible acquisition of the Opel factory in Eisenach. But since the dismissal of German Michael Lohscheller, former CEO of Opel and VinFast later, it’s been radio silence.
On the other hand, there was the opening of an electric car production plant in the United States during the second half of 2024, followed by a project for a battery factory (source the Detroit office).