Batteries NOT Included: VinFast Pricing and Battery Subscription Prices

Batteries NOT Included: VinFast Pricing and Battery Subscription Prices

2022 VinFast SUV

Just as legacy OEMs are jumping into the EV race, newcomers and startups are set to enter the North American market within the next year or so. Today, a glance at electric vehicle sales numbers finds Tesla dominating with 67% market share, but that figure is slowly falling as the competition heats up. Volkswagen Group, Ford and Korean automakers trail behind, eager to bite into Tesla’s success. Here to spice things up are newcomers like Rivian, Fisker, Lucid and a half-dozen other boutique automakers.

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Overseas, two established EV players are poised to join the fun as well. While Chinese EV success story NIO hasn’t made any commitments, aspiring Vietnamese automaker VinFast is ready to break ground in America. How will this emerging vehicle segment evolve over the next 2-3 years? Whatever happens, it’s looking increasingly likely that VinFast will be a part of the story.

Who Is VinFast?

The 2021 LA Auto Show was all about EVs. No one lingered around the occasional displays of cross-cut engines or propped-open hoods. Yet every electric vehicle booth was packed. One of the many oddities and spectacles at the auto show was VinFast, who (almost) nobody had heard of. It almost sounds like the name of a rebranding online car seller who gets your title to you in less than a month. Founded in 2017, VinFast is the automotive wing of Vingroup, a private Vietnamese conglomerate active in tech, retail, industrial development and service industries. Now worth over $35 billion, Vingroup had humble beginnings as a food processing company working out of Ukraine in the early 1990s. 

VinFast first set foot in America in the summer of 2020. That was a pretty horrible time to be launching any kind of business venture, but VinFast stuck with it. With an extensive history and enough capital to get the ball rolling, automotive industry analysts are marveling at the pace of VinFast. At the LA Auto Show, VinFast US CEO Van Anh Nguyen told TechCrunch about their expansion plans. Here’s what the ambitious automaker has in store in just the first half of this decade:

  • $200 million for building a headquarters and support infrastructure in California
  • Hiring 1,000 employees in California, including 400 at the new headquarters
  • Opening 60 sales locations
  • Opening multiple service centers and mobile service providers
  • Building a VinFast factory in America by the end of 2024
  • Two VinFast SUVs launching in the US soon

With this roadmap in mind, it’s no surprise that VinFast is eyeing an IPO into the US stock market. Rumor has it that they’re shooting for a $60 billion valuation.

Batteries Not Included?

vinfast vf9

When VinFast announced their new 15,000 square-foot headquarters, they also shared some details about future product launches. VinFast followed through on their pledge to officially debut two of its first electric SUVs, the VF 8 and VF 9, at the 2021 LA Auto Show. There’s one aspect in particular that lends so much confidence to VinFast’s growth strategy. Much of their research and development has been focused on streamlining and automating vehicle manufacturing processes. Sound familiar? That’s how a certain American company (starts with a T, ends with an A) overcame the many burdens of production ramp-up. In fact, Tesla was the first American car manufacturer to successfully ramp up automotive production in nearly 100 years. If VinFast has scalable growth in mind, their likelihood of success is far greater than the average EV startup.

VinFast’s approach to EV production isn’t all good news for the consumer. Automotive News recently reported on VinFast’s plan to NOT include a battery pack as part of the standard equipment when the vehicle is purchased. Instead, car buyers will lease a battery pack from VinFast. I guess that’s one way to guarantee a revenue stream! 

How Much Is a VinFast Battery Lease?

Renting a battery pack from VinFast won’t be cheap. Unless, of course, you intend to purchase an EV that comes without the usual fuel savings associated with going electric. VinFast Global CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said the two battery pack options will cost between $100 and $150 PER MONTH. They say the battery leasing model would buffer EV buyers from the risk of degraded battery performance over time. They’ll replace the battery if it falls below 70 percent of its initial charging capacity. The thing is, today’s EVs still retain over 80% of their initial charging capacity with well over 100,000 miles on the odometer. This would have been a reasonable strategy a decade ago, when early battery tech was on shaky, experimental ground. Now, it’s a solution in search of a problem.

Below is the official announcement from VinFast, showing the pricing tiers for the VinFast VF 8 and VF 9. VinFast battery subscription plans range from $110 to $160 per month on the VinFast Fixed Plan, and $35 to $44 per month on the VinFast Flexible plan, which includes just 310 miles of driving per month.

This is from VinFast’s marketing material.

Why would anyone buy a new car knowing they will have to pay an extra $150 every month for the required battery? That would only work if the car itself sells for ridiculously cheap. We’ll see, but I’m skeptical.

Imagine if Apple required you to purchase a battery for the IPhone separately. The behemoth wouldn’t be where they are today with such a critical product miscalculation.  Will VinFast SUVs overcome this looming and unnecessary product feature? Or will they reverse course before launching US sales? 

VinFast Models in 2022

vinfast vf8

Enough with the negativity. At the 2021 LA Auto Show, VinFast shared two impressive electric concepts. They intend to bring both to production very soon, and both will be sold in the US market. The VF 8 (formerly dubbed the e35) and VF 9 (formerly e36) are two fully-electric SUVs that feature advanced driver-assistance systems and a suite of smart features. Both VinFast SUVs are designed by Italian design firm Pininfarina, and the result is pleasant to look at. 

The smaller VF 8 is advertised for up to 310 miles of range on a charge. Stepping up to the larger VF 9 will get you 301 miles of range with the (rented) standard battery, or buyers can opt for the bigger battery that’s good for 422 miles.

Aside from the range figures and pretty images, not a whole lot is known about these two SUVs. The VinFast website shows an interior with a 15” Tesla-style touchscreen front and center. What they do make clear on the website is that interested buyers are welcome to place a reservation for $200. Reservations placed before April qualify for a $3,000 to $5,000 voucher for their VinFast SUV of choice.

VinFast pricing starts at $41,000 for the crossover-styled VF 8, and $56,000 for the larger VF 9 SUV. Power is impressive, yet nothing to write home about. Check out the full VinFast pricing and spec details below. The automaker does make it abundantly clear that this information is subject to change.

Vinfast VF8 specs
Vinfast VF9 specs

YAA’s Take

I want VinFast to succeed in their North American expansion. Greater competition among automakers almost always results in savings for the consumer. But batteries not included? $150 every month for something that literally comes with every single other electric vehicle in the world? Come on. I hope VinFast sees the reality of the situation and the expectations of the American buyer. 

What do you think? Are you willing to give VinFast a chance, or are they wasting their time with this battery nonsense? How affordable would the car have to be for this sales model to work? Let us know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you might be willing to give the VinFast ownership experience a try. 

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CES 2022: The 5 Biggest Automotive News Stories

CES 2022: The 5 Biggest Automotive News Stories

Chrysler Airflow EV

CES 2022 was marked by innovations in the metaverse, NFTs, crypto, and sustainability. But many of the greatest headlines from CES 2022 were in the arena of automotive news. Here are five stories that stood out from automakers that brought their best and brightest. 

Sony’s VISION-S Initiative Becomes Sony Mobility

Sony EV Concept

At CES 2020, Sony announced “VISION-S,” an initiative to bring Sony’s tech know-how into the world of mobility. There was a prototype sedan on display, and it was all the rage among automotive and PlayStation enthusiasts. Sony secretly started public road testing in Europe in December of the same year, and has now shared that they were conducting a number of driver experience tests featuring their cutting-edge vehicle technology platform under development. 

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Two years after kindling their own automotive rumors, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida confirmed the establishment of Sony Mobility at CES 2022. During the announcement, Sony unveiled Vision-S 02, an electric crossover prototype, but offered no specific details about pricing or release dates. With the electric vehicle space getting more and more crowded as legacy OEMs and startups alike unveil their EV plans, Sony must be quite confident that they have something special to bring to the table as they launch Sony Mobility. We’ll be following this one closely.

Chevrolet and Cadillac Introduce Electric Concepts, an electric Silverado and More

Chevrolet Equinox EV

Arguably the biggest headline out of CES 2022 was the full unveiling of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV. With up to 400 miles of range, powerful performance and both luxury and work-oriented trims, the 2024 Silverado EV is positioned to fiercely compete with the F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T. Who knows, maybe the Tesla CyberTruck will be trickling out of Tesla’s Gigafactory by the time the Silverado EV arrives in customer hands starting in 2023. 

Electric vehicles are still expensive. Until prices come down, most consumers won’t be considering going electric for their next purchase. That’s why Chevrolet’s announcement of a $30,000 electric Equinox is a big deal for the whole industry. Coming in 2023, the Equinox EV will be based on GM’s highly-efficient and affordable Ultium platform.

Cadillac is slated to become the first GM brand to go all electric by 2030. The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq will be the first electric Cadillac to arrive at dealerships later this year, and it’s one beautiful luxury crossover. However, it turns out the Cadillac has even more ambitious plans on the table. 

At CES, Cadillac introduced the funky and far-out InnerSpace concept. The InnerSpace ‘design experience,’ as Cadillac puts it, is the latest addition to their Halo Concept Portfolio. The InnerSpace is a two-passenger autonomous electric luxury concept vehicle that features nearly 360-degree panoramic views, massive LED displays with integrated augmented reality, and ‘wellness recovery’ features. It sure is something to think about.

Batteries Not Included: EV Startup VinFast Is Entering the US Market

VinFast EV VF8

VinFast has been taking the EV scene by storm. Part of their sudden popularity is probably due to the EV stock craze, but some of the attention is because of the different and controversial approach the Vietnamese startup is taking for power supply. VinFast says it will lease batteries to customers rather than including them as standard equipment. They likely took inspiration from Chinese electric automaker Nio’s success with battery swapping, but at least batteries come with their vehicles. 

Also at CES 2022, VinFast shared prototypes of their upcoming electric SUVs, the VF-8 and VF-9. VinFast already began deliveries of its first electric SUV in Vietnam last year. It intends to deliver six EVs to international markets by mid-2023. 

At CES, the company shared pricing for two models that are nearing production. The midsized VF 8 SUV will start at $41,000. The three-row VF 9 will start at $56,000. However, there’s a big catch. Those prices are without the battery! We’ll see how North American consumers feel about buying an EV without its most essential component. 

Stellantis’ Chrysler Airflow Envisions an All-Electric Future for the Automaker

Talk about ambition! In 2022, Chrysler has zero electric vehicles for sale. In fact, it doesn’t intend to sell any EVs until 2025. No big deal, right? What if I told you that by 2028, Chrysler plans to be 100% electric? As crazy as that sounds, that’s exactly the plan that Stellantis shared with us at CES 2022. From the looks of it, they do have a promising EV in the works.

The 2025 Chrysler Airflow is a sleek electric sedan concept that may be closer to production than it seems. The automaker calls it a technology-forward design optimized for efficiency and driver experience. The Airflow integrates leading-edge drive-system technology with intuitive AI and connected vehicle technology that delivers 350- to 400-mile range. They also say it includes the new “STLA SmartCockpit, powered by STLA Brain, that enables an extension of digital, work and home environments, all in sync to create a personalized experience for every passenger.”

Chrysler also says that the Airflow will include STLA AutoDrive, a Level 3 autonomous driving system. That’s a bold claim considering that even the best driver assistance systems today are Level 2, requiring active monitoring at all times. The upcoming Chrysler EVs will also be upgradable via over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

The Mercedes Vision EQXX Is Engineered for Extreme Efficiency

Mercedes EQXX

As of 2022, the best long-range EVs on the market offer 400-500 miles of range on a single charge. Notably, the Lucid Air, Tesla Model S and brand-new Mercedes EQS are capable of going the distance. Now, Mercedes-Benz says it is aiming to bring an electric vehicle with more than 620 miles of range to the market by 2024.

The Vision EQXX concept is “more than just a car, it’s a technology program,” according to  Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer. The next-generation of Mercedes EVs will feature redesigned battery architecture that includes more silicon to increase energy density without making the battery any larger. If you’re in the market for a long-range luxury Mercedes, the German automaker has big plans for taking electric luxury to new heights.

YAA’s Take

You may have noticed something about the automotive headlines out of CES 2022: the golden era of EVs appears to be upon us. The roaring ‘20s are turning out to be the whirring ‘20s as electric motors make their way into seemingly every new auto. Whether consumers and infrastructure are ready or not, OEM investments in electrification seem unstoppable at this point. What do you think? Are you excited for what’s to come? Or do you see trouble on the horizon? We’ll keep you up to date as the industry transforms like never before.