Vietnamese VinFast prepares to open dealerships in the United States

Vietnamese automaker VinFast will open six US dealerships next week and 30 by the end of 2022, all in California.

The company says it will cut the ribbon for stores in Berkeley, Commerce, Corte Madera, San Diego, San Mateo and Santa Monica next Thursday. The stores will initially stock two electric vehicles.

Two SUVs at the start

One is the 2-row VF8 electric SUV, priced at $40,700. It has a total output of 402 horsepower thanks to a pair of electric motors. The company claims a range of up to 292 miles, but the EPA hasn’t weighed in on that. These numbers come from European tests, which tend to estimate longer ranges than American tests.

Related: What is VinFast? All about the new Vietnamese automaker

The other is the 3-row VF9, priced at 55,000. It shares the VF8’s powertrain but claims up to 369 miles of range (with the same caveats) thanks to a larger battery.

The VinFast VF9 2023 is parked on a gray background.  We see it from a rear quarter angle, facing our right.  It's gunmetal gray, with long portions and an unusual rear-facing vent that spans the full width of its hood.

Batteries for rent, not for sale

And the batteries are the most interesting part of the VinFast story. As a first step, the company anticipates that buyers subscribe to a battery rather than buying one. Two subscription plans – one with unlimited mileage and a voucher for 310 miles of driving per month – are available.

EV battery performance degrades over time. According to VinFast, the benefit of a battery subscription is that the company promises to replace any battery that drops below 70% of its promised capacity and perform all battery repairs free of charge. The disadvantage? You never own it.

At launch, an unlimited mileage subscription costs $110 per month for the 2-row VF8 and $160 per month for the larger VF9. This is, according to VinFast, a permanent subscription for the life of the product.

Limited mileage options include a flat monthly fee ($35 for VF8 and $44 for VF9), plus a per-mile fee of $0.11 to $0.15. VinFast does not appear to make a similar promise that these fees will never increase.

The company says it will offer the option to purchase batteries by 2024.

VinFast plans a range of five electric vehicles in the coming years.

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