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Finally, EVs not made in China

Finally, EVs not made in China

Tessa R. Salazar

Vietnamese EV brand Vinfast makes its much-awaited launch in the Philippines

Thank heavens the China monopoly on relatively affordable electric vehicles (EVs) here in the Philippines has been somewhat broken. Now, thanks to a new player in town called VinFast, we’ll be getting some middle-class-targeted EVs from somewhere closer to home, and without all of that geopolitical baggage that gets thrown around helter skelter in social media circles.
VinFast Auto is a manufacturer of EVs—both 4- and 2-wheelers from Vietnam. Vietnam and Philippines belong in the same geo-economic region called the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). As such, these two countries have had a shared history, culture, and economy throughout the ages. And if you know your 20th century history, during Vietnam’s most turbulent sociopolitical period, the Philippine government helped many Vietnamese refugees establish safe havens and communities here.
That’s why the launch of VinFast Auto Ltd and its lineup of EVs last Friday at the Main Mall Atrium of the SM Mall of Asia were quite warmly received by Pinoys. As of this writing (Saturday), there’s been a long queue of mall goers wanting to know more about the VinFast brand and taking their turns test driving the VinFast models at the 8th floor open parking of the mall.
Today is the last day of the VinFast EV displays and public test drives at MOA. If you’re in the area and want to know more about the brand and its products, head on over to the Main Mall Atrium, then look for the “tuktuk” (e-trike) shuttles with VinFast stickers to give you a ride to the 8th floor test drive area.
VinFast Philippines, which has an extensive lineup of EVs, e-motorbikes and e-bikes, has also signed cooperation contracts with its first four dealers in the country: EV Solutions, K1 Prestige Bay Motors Inc, and Autoflare Corp, all based in Manila, and MNV Auto Group Inc which is headquartered in Iloilo City. The first VinFast showrooms are expected to open in Manila by end-June 2024. The dealers will begin selling the following VinFast models as soon as they launch in the market: The VF5, VFe34, VF7, and VF9. The first cars are expected to be delivered to Philippine buyers starting the third quarter of this year.
VinFast Philippines says it plans to open dozens of dealerships across the country in 2024, with stores strategically located on major roads in Manila and other key cities.
It also says it’s weighing its options on introducing the popular mini e-SUV VF3, as well as studying the market potential for more electric motorbikes and electric bicycle models.
VinFast is Vietnam’s leading EV maker. Apart from its foray into the Philippine market, VinFast has also entered the US, Canadian, and European markets and, more recently, Indonesia, India, and Thailand.
To address the varying needs of the local market, VinFast will offer both car purchases with batteries and a unique battery subscription policy. This subscription option aims to lower the initial cost of EVs, making them more accessible to Filipino consumers.
VinFast also claims that it offers a market-leading aftersales policy, which includes a 7 to 10-year warranty on vehicles. For those who choose the battery subscription policy, VinFast offers a free battery replacement and maintenance program if the battery capacity falls below 70 percent.
VinFast is a subsidiary of Vingroup, formerly known as Technocom Group. It was founded in 1993 in Ukraine by Pham Nhat Vuong. Today, Vingroup is the largest private conglomerate in Vietnam and one of the leading economic groups in the region. Vingroup’s key brand in its global expansion strategy is VinFast. VinFast has already introduced seven electric car models and an electric pickup truck concept, becoming one of the first automakers in the world to switch to pure electric by the end of 2022.
Surprisingly, there were no price reveals during the Friday launch, prompting us to joke about VinFast models as “priceless.” We heard that the Philippine executives of VinFast Auto are still waiting for Vinfast HQ’s approval on pricing, wanting these SRPs to be “very competitive, especially because VinFast has just entered the market.”
 ‘Vinfast and Furious’
 I heard through the grapevine that the BTS (behind-the-scenes) of the VinFast Auto launch added a bit of excitement and suspense. The delivery of the units for display at the MOA was allegedly delayed, since the vehicles were said to be released from the Manila port too close to the launch date. The situation got so dicey that I heard one VinFast Philippines executive say in jest that had the vehicles not been delivered in time for the launch, he wouldn’t dare show up, as well.
But, all’s well that ends well for the VinFast Philippines launch. It’s a great start for a diversity of options among Asean members. We need suppliers of EVs other than China in order for our EV industry to grow dynamically and competitively not just in the region, but also in the global arena. In fact, it’s high time that our own country develops its own EV maker along the lines of VinFast. If our Vietnamese brothers and sisters could do it, why can’t we?
Vinfast Philippines President Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc (center) is joined by fellow executives from the main headquartersin Vietnam and their Manila counterparts as well as confirmed dealer principals at the brand launch held at the SM Mall of Asia on Friday.