For many months, it has been a big question to automotive experts in the region — why is VinFast, a company located in the Southeast Asian region, which can gain obvious benefits from selling to markets within the ASEAN, chosing to sell to the finicky markets in North America and Europe first before selling to their neighbors?
The very first VinFast vehicles, based on BMW platforms, were all left-hand drive. The assembly process, from body stamping to welding and painting, electronics and instrumentation, suspension and handling components, as well as current tooling in the factory, is all geared to left-hand drive. But this will change very soon, because at the Future Mobility Summit held from May 17 to 19th in Bangkok, Thailand, VinFast announced it will be ready to enter the ASEAN market.
During the Vingroup media tour last September, Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vice Chairman of Vingroup and Chairman of VinFast, told CleanTechnica in a press conference late last year that there are technical concerns that will arise from selling to the ASEAN market because of the presence of the left- and right-hand drive markets.
“For now, we are building in left-hand drive because of our intention to sell to North America first. Then later on, we will release right-hand drive variants for the rest of the world driving on the left side of the road. However, as we speak, we have already developed plans to create the right-hand drive variants to meet the future requirements in some other Southeast Asian countries,” Thuy told CleanTechnica last September 2022.
This revelation by VinFast came with the announcement that the company is planning to introduce its first four right-hand drive EVs within the year or early in 2024.
Attendance at the Future Mobility Asia 2023 signals VinFast’s official debut of its brand and products in Asia. Aside from the ASEAN region, the Vietnamese car market is also looking at China and South Korea, both left-hand drive markets to later develop. Future expansion may include Australia and Japan (right-hand drive) as well, but this is something Vinfast never confirmed.
A senior member of VinFast’s factory told CleanTechnica last September that “the plans for right-hand drive markets is already clear and management has had that in mind since the first VF rolled off the line as a domestic model car. The plans will be more concrete in 2023.”
Of the countries in the ASEAN region, five — Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia — are left-hand drive (driving on the right side of the road) while six nations — Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor Leste — are right-hand drive markets. In the case of total volume of vehicles, Indonesia leads, followed by Malaysia and Vietnam.
At the event, VinFast displayed its complete VF lineup, and offered test drives around the Queen Sirikit Convention Center for visitors to directly experience its EVs. At the event, VinFast officials also actively sought new partners to expand its market presence and promote sustainable mobility solutions in the region. Developing vehicles for the right-hand drive market will be a significant milestone in the company’s regional market strategy and the next phase of its global development journey.
“Expanding to the Southeast Asia region is part of VinFast’s global development strategy. We have set a target to provide ASEAN countries with smart and safe mobility solutions, delivering excellent experiences, and ultimately promoting a greener future for all,” Thuy explained.
Vinfast intends to introduce right-hand steering versions of its EV models — VF 5, VF 6, VF 7, and VF e34 — tailored to meet the market’s specific features and demands.
In addition to its car lineup, VinFast provides a range of 8 e-scooter models designed to target users from mass to premium segments, which include Klara, Impes, Ludo, Tempest, Evo200, Feliz, Vento, and Theon. Furthermore, VinFast’s ecosystem extends to e-buses and advanced battery and charging solutions, all within the Vingroup ecosystem. These vehicles and systems are also included in the company’s expansion plans in the ASEAN region.
Countries in Southeast Asia are potential markets for EV consumption, offering significant room for development and fast-paced growth. With favorable geographical locations and similar business environments, the Southeast Asian market will be an effective catalyst for promoting the comprehensive development of VinFast’s product and service ecosystem and that of its parent company, Vingroup, in the future.
Related: VinFast announced that it has partnered with BCA Europe to deploy a comprehensive trade-in solution across three European markets.
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