Vinfast EV sales pivot to dealer model, starting in North Carolina

Vinfast will use franchised dealerships to sell cars in the U.S.—starting in the state where the company also plans to build a factory.

While Vinfast already has a few company-operated showrooms, its first franchised dealership opened this week in Cary, North Carolina, in partnership with the Leith Automotive Group. As of Thursday, the dealership had 60 Vinfast VF 8 electric SUVs in stock, local newspaper The News & Observer reported.

As with other traditional franchised dealers, Leith will be responsible for repairs, maintenance, and parts support for the Vinfast vehicles it sells, according to a joint statement from the dealer and the automaker.

2023 Vinfast VF 8

North Carolina is also slated to be home to a $2 billion Vinfast factory with a planned production capacity of 150,000 vehicles annually. Vinfast originally said the factory would start building vehicles in 2024, but at the groundbreaking ceremony this past summer the company said it was targeting 2025 for the start of production. Cars for the U.S. are currently sourced from Vinfast’s existing factory in Vietnam.

This is the start of a planned national distribution network of Vinfast franchised dealerships. Vinfast in November claimed it had more than 70 applications—and it’s aiming for 125 sales points nationwide.

Vinfast said it was set for U.S. deliveries last December, but it officially started to deliver cars in California in March. The automaker sold more than 13,000 vehicles globally in the second and third quarter of 2023, but more than half of those went to an affiliate company owned by its founder, Reuters reported this week.

Vinfast VF 9

Vinfast VF 9

While Vinfast is living up to its name with the rapidity of its expansion plans, it may have moved too fast with the launch of its first model. A drive of one of the early VF 8 City Edition models in May led to advice Green Car Reports hasn’t ever given about an EV: that you shouldn’t buy one—at least not yet.

Vinfast originally had a battery leasing plan that might have been an unusual, standout value proposition. But instead it opted for pricing that roughly parallels that of models from established brands.

The automaker’s next model will be the three-row VF 9 SUV, which Vinfast claims will achieve a 330-mile EPA-rated range. Vinfast has also teased some smaller models, and recently announced that it will unveil a new EV concept and a “mini” SUV called the VF 3 at CES 2024.