Vietnamese automaker VinFast hopes to reboot its image at CES 2024 with new dealers and new ideas, including a truck and an electric bike. Check out what the company revealed at the event.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada has become one of the most desirable venues for automakers to announce and unveil new vehicles — especially if those vehicles are electric or carry some other new tech.
Smaller could be better
With the show’s emphasis on new tech, it’s not surprising that Vietnamese upstart VinFast chose CES 2024 as the location to display their new concept “mini eSUV,” otherwise called the VF 3, to global customers. The VF 3 was launched in Vietnam for the company’s home market last summer, but now the company is hinting that the small-format electric with SUV styling could be sold abroad as well.
The VF 3 is classified as a Mini car, closer to a Smart or Kei than to anything we’ve seen recently in the United States. It’s a little over 10 feet long, or about the same size as an original British Austin or Morris Mini, before BMW got ahold of that brand and started growing the business, literally. Perhaps a better comparison is to the Suzuki Jimny, which is a Mini-sized SUV sold around the world for rugged use.
Like the Jimny, the VF 3 is a two-door, two-box design with sufficient interior space to accommodate up to five people. The body is compact yet tall enough for American buyers. The squared-off design and raised ground clearance makes it SUV-like, rather than a hatchback. Vinfast describes the interior as “minimalist,” though it remains to be seen if they decide to spice that up for the American market.
VinFast’s intention is that the VF 3 should above all else be affordable, while providing a safe, convenient, and smart transportation solution.
“The VF three is in the under $20,000 range, explained VinFast’s recent CEO, now Chairwoman of the Board Le Thi Thu Thuy. “We designed the VF 3 mostly for Vietnamese market because we thought that US market wouldn’t like something tiny, it would like something more substantial. So that’s why we launched the VF 9 in the US last September. I brought the VF 3 to CES because some of the dealers encouraged it. We had to redesign the VF 3 for the US market, and we expect to launch the VF 3 next year. This is going to happen for the U.S. market for sure.”
The VF 3 would not be the first time that a basic, inexpensive car without a lot of bells and whistles snuck into the US market while other automakers tried to outdo each other with priced-up opulence. The success of Volkswagen in the 1960s and the Japanese brands in the 1970s may be a useful guide to an often dormant market segment.
More about VinFast
- Shakeup at troubled VinFast: Vietnamese automaker names new CEO, CFO
- VinFast making moves to expand in U.S.
- Vietnam’s VinFast to target Europe even as it struggles to gain ground in the U.S.
Pickup the pace
Before American consumers get a case of the vapors, VinFast also had its full-size all-electric VF 9 SUV on display. VinFast has incorporated a new streaming service into the vehicle, providing CES 2024 attendees with a unique firsthand in-car experience of the new technology.
But the big noise (or as much noise as electrics can make) for VinFast was its reveal of the brand’s first pickup truck. The “VF Wild” concept is a midsize truck similar in size to a Ford Ranger or Chevrolet Colorado. The concept has bold, aggressive styling, and a fold-down rear cab wall similar to the old Chevrolet Avalanche. When folded, the Wild boasts an 8-foot bed, the largest in the segment.
VinFast did not offer a lot of detail about the Wild truck as it is still a concept, but response was positive at the show and it seems likely that VinFast will bring an electric pickup to market. The company’s new North Carolina factory would allow the Wild to be sold without paying “Chicken Tax” import duties.
Here there be Dragonflies
Smartly hopping on the trend toward electric bicycles, VinFast also introduced its electric bike, named DrgnFly, at CES. The idea is to showcase the company’s commitment to a “holistic EV ecosystem” to American customers, as well as showcasing its rapid research and development capabilities. The real-world result is a super-fun E-bike that has more in common with a small motorcycle than with a traditional bicycle.
The VinFast Drgnfly carries an MSRP of $2,800, accompanied by a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty. According to the company, ‘The DrgnFly seamlessly combines a vintage design inspired by the golden era of motorcycles and a commitment to a sustainable future.” The DrgnFly has wide handlebars, balloon tires, and after an unpermitted ride around the CES show floor, we can say it has a comfortable ergonomic riding position.
The DrgnFly is made of aluminum, with an exposed battery pack integrated into the frame. With a driving range of up to 63 miles and a detachable lithium-ion battery, the DrgnFly has a top speed of 28 mph. Hoever, VinFast staff told Headlight.News that the governor could be defeated through the companion phone app for faster speeds. Several drive modes are available, ranging from Eco to “Boost” mode. Headlight.News will offer a detailed review as soon as test models are available.