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Asia Minute: Vietnamese electric vehicles are coming to America

VinFast DC Press Conference electric vehicle
Eric Kayne/AP
FR170049 AP
Madam Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global CEO, speaks during VinFast's presentation at the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Washington regarding investment in their North Carolina electric vehicle assembly plant. Other speakers included Gina Raimondo, U.S. Commerce Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary, H.E. Nguyen Quoc Dung, Vietnam Ambassador to the U.S. and David Price, U.S. Rep. for North Carolina's 4th District. (Eric Kayne/AP Images for VinFast)

The latest entry into the world of electric vehicles is coming from the Asia Pacific. An automaker in Vietnam is shifting its strategy — and betting that it will be popular in the U.S. market.

VinFast is the largest automaker in Vietnam — and it’s coming to America — first to raise money, and then to build cars — electric cars.

This week, the company filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to list its shares in the United States.

There are few details on that initial public offering right now. The precise timing and size of the operation remain unclear.

But the company has said that it will break ground on a multi-billion-dollar factory in North Carolina later this year — with initial production planned for 2024.

VinFast VF e35 is displayed at the AutoMobility LA Auto Show 111821 electric vehicle
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
The VinFast VF e35 is displayed at the AutoMobility LA Auto Show Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

VinFast has also said it will shift its engines to be entirely powered by batteries before the end of this year.

The company is part of Vietnam’s largest corporate conglomerate, Vingroup, and while the automaker was only founded about five years ago, it’s grown fast.

Last year, it reported sales of more than 30,000 vehicles, and it’s targeting global sales of 42,000 this year.

Part of its strategy is aggressive pricing.

That includes an all-electric SUV selling for about $41,000 in the United States — compared to about $63,000 for a similar model from Tesla.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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