VinFast Shows Off Electric VF 8 and VF 9 SUVs at New York Auto Show

    The two models are the first offerings from the new Vietnamese automaker

    There’s a new electric vehicle company in town, and its home base is in Vietnam.

    If you’ve never heard of VinFast, you’re not alone. But the new-to-the-scene automaker brought two functioning all-electric SUVs to the New York International Auto Show this week, and was giving rides around an indoor track at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

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    According to VinFast, both SUVs will be available in the Eco or Plus trim level, the latter with quicker  acceleration, but slightly less driving range. There will also be two batteries available for either version of both models—standard and long-range.

    To make things more complicated, owners will be forced to select from one of two battery subscription plans that requires an additional monthly fee, on top of the purchase price, to drive the vehicle. One of the best parts for consumers will be the VinFast factory warranty, which covers the car for the first 10 years or 125,000 miles. 

    VinFast’s parent company, VinGroup, has a number of brands under its aegis—VinHomes, VinBigData, VinBioCare, and VinBrain, among others—and has its finger in every pie from technology and medicine to corporate services. VinFast announced an initial public offering last week, as well as plans to invest $4 billion in a manufacturing plant in North Carolina.

    What they compete with: Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Subaru Solterra, Tesla Model Y, Toyota bZ4X, Volkswagen ID.4 
    What it looks like: These are unique enough to have their own brand identity, yet fit right in with the latest EV designs.
    Powertrain: 348 hp or 402 hp from two electric motors; one-speed direct drive; all-wheel drive
    Prices: 
    VF 8: $40,700-$48,000
    VF 9: $55,500-$61,000
    On sale: Late 2022

    Vinfast VF 9 at 2022 NYIAS
    Low-speed VinFast VF 8 test drive at the New York International Auto Show.

    Photo: Newspress USA Photo: Newspress USA

    CR's Take

    Despite the fact that new EV companies seem to come and go with incredible frequency at this point in automotive history, VinFast looks promising, with ambitious production goals. 

    It has a unique twist on pricing, with a battery subscription tailored to the buyer’s expected usage. The company explains it this way: “By separating the price of the battery from the acquisition value of the automobile, VinFast takes on all the risks related to the vehicle’s battery and ensures a reasonable price for its products, while providing customers with peace of mind about the battery’s quality during use.”

    The costs may be confusing to buyers. There are two plans, one called the Flexible Plan, which VinFast says is designed for motorists who drive infrequently. The first 310 miles each month are covered by the plan—with monthly fees at $35 for the VF 8 and $44 for the VF 9. Every mile over 310 costs $0.11 for the VF 8 and $0.15 for the VF 9. Prices for the unlimited-mileage monthly plan are $110 for the VF 8 and $160 for the VF 9.

    A key upside to their battery approach is that VinFast provides a lifetime battery warranty covering all maintenance and repair costs, and will replace the battery for free when charging capacity dips below 70 percent. This should reduce some concerns among shoppers. 

    This week, the company announced a partnership with Electrify America that will allow customers to begin charging as soon as they plug into an Electrify America network EV charger. Payment will be handled through the VinFast Plug & Charge app, which the automaker says will process payments securely without having to swipe a credit card or juggle other apps.

    Outside

    From a styling perspective, VinFast’s SUVs are attractive, if somewhat conventional. What sets them apart is an LED spear on the front end that dips into a notable “V.” The taillights are tied to one another with a heckblende—a strip of shiny black plastic with a big chrome “V” badge at the center—that mimics the shape of the headlights. The smaller VF 8 has a standard small crossover profile, and the larger VF 9 has the more boxy station wagon-esque shape traditional large SUVs have had for years. 

    VinFast VF 8

    Inside

    The interior follows the minimalist trend many manufacturers have copied since Tesla made it cool with its EVs. Based on a brief ride at the New York auto show, the cabin is quiet, the seats are comfy, and the door openings allow easy access.

    The dashboard is spare, with a single 15-inch touch screen and a pair of air vents mounted in the center, just above the console, which features push-button gear selector controls. There is a head-up display in front of the driver.

    The automaker says that the voice-activated Amazon Alexa virtual assistant will be available in the car, and that there will be more than 30 AI features used to power interaction between the driver and the infotainment computer. 

    The seats in the Plus trim are heated and ventilated, and upholstered in attractive leather. The Eco version gets synthetic leather seats. The Plus trim also comes with auto-dimming mirrors, a foot-activated power liftgate, an 8-inch infotainment screen in the second row, and a panoramic sunroof. The VF 9 has a third row with seating for seven passengers, although the Plus version is available with second-row captain’s chairs that bring passenger capacity down to six. 

    VinFast hasn’t yet specified cargo volume numbers for either model, or whether Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available.

    VinFast VF 9 interior

    What Drives It

    Both the VF 8 and the VF 9 feature a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. The Eco version has 348 horsepower, and the Plus trim has 402 horsepower.

    Standard and long-range batteries are available in either model. VinFast says the VF 8 Eco with the standard battery has a 260-mile estimated driving range and a 5.8-second 0-60 mph time, while models equipped with the extended-range battery have an estimated 292-mile range and 5.3-second 0-60 time.

    The VF 8 Plus will have the same 402-horsepower drivetrain in both Eco and Plus trims, although range in the Plus version is about 10 miles shorter with either the standard or the extended-range battery. VinFast estimates that the VF 9 will have a driving range from 262 to 369 miles, depending upon trim and options. Using DC fast charging, VinFast says that it is possible to charge either model from a 10 percent charge to 70 percent charged.

    Active Safety and Driver Assistance Features

    The VF 8 and VF 9 will come with a full suite of active safety and driver assistance features, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, lane changing assist, and driver monitoring to make sure the driver is alert while hands-free driver aids are in use.

    VinFast VF 9 charging
    VinFast VF 9 using an Electrify America public charger.

    Photo: VinFast Photo: VinFast


    Head shot of CR Autos Editor, Benjamin Preston

    Benjamin Preston

    My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.