Despite facing difficulties in the launch of its cars in the US, Vietnamese EV maker VinFast recently broke ground at its North Carolina electric vehicle facility.
Brutal but honest press reports about the VF8 as being “not ready” for the market, technical issues which hounded the first 999 vehicles delivered, and a slow uptake in the sales — only 128 vehicles have been registered since January this year — did not deter the company from pursuing its ambitions to make North Carolina its second base of operations.
“Today’s event marks a new milestone for VinFast, affirming our commitment to the North American market,” Le Thi Thu Thuy, CEO of VinFast, said during the ceremony last July 28 at the 1,800-acre site located within the Triangle Innovation Point in Chatham County, North Carolina.
The groundbreaking ceremony was participated in by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung, and representatives from state and federal governments, along with a gathering of VinFast’s partners, customers, industry experts, and journalists.
Setting up the first phase of the EV factory will cost VinFast upwards of VND 47 trillion (approximately US$2 billion), and despite the huge backlash against the brand in the market, VinFast remains undeterred, stating that the manufacturing plant is on track and expected to commence production in 2025 — pushed up one year from the original launch timing.
Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina, is happy about the development, as it will create an ecosystem of suppliers and thousands of jobs.
“North Carolina’s skilled and diverse workforce is our greatest strength, and we have the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast,” Governor Cooper said. “This VinFast factory will create thousands of good-paying jobs in our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road.”
The manufacturing complex, VinFast’s first electric vehicle factory outside of Vietnam, will also “play an important role as the company strives to reach world-class levels of sustainable mobility on a global scale.” Apart from being the first electric vehicle manufacturing facility in North Carolina, it is also the largest economic development initiative in the state’s history.
“Not only will this project create thousands of jobs and contribute to North Carolina’s economic development, but VinFast’s electric vehicles produced here will also bring additional economic benefits to consumers. We also look forward to contributing to the development of the North Carolina community — our second home — during the production and business operation here,” Thuy added.
The groundbreaking coincided with an announcement of a business combination with Black Space, a special purpose acquisition company founded by Black Spade Capital, which runs a global portfolio consisting of a wide spectrum of cross-border investments. The tie-up values VinFast at an enterprise value of US$27 billion and an equity value of US$23 billion. The transaction is expected to close followed by the listing of VinFast in August 2023, subject to shareholder approvals and other customary closing conditions.
“Today represents a remarkable milestone in advancing VinFast’s presence in the U.S. as we move towards our proposed U.S. listing. Along with this exciting step, today we also celebrate the start of construction of our electric vehicle (EV) factory in North Carolina. These achievements will help accelerate our commitment to the global green mobility revolution and our mission to help consumers make the switch to an EV easier and more accessible, while also opening a strategic capital-raising avenue for our global ambitions,” Thuy commented on the business combination, in relation to the setting up of the North Carolina plant.
Once completed, the plant is expected to have an output of up to 150,000 VF 7, VF 8, and VF 9 electric cars annually. The supplier base for components and materials will be primarily concentrated in the US, Vietnam, and a few other countries. Future expansion and updates for the factory will be identified in the next phase.
Currently, VinFast already shook hands with the general contractor and construction management company Clayco to lead the project and will begin the bidding process to select subcontractors soon.
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