The VF e35 and e36 will arrive in the US and Canada next year, built from the ground up on VinFast’s own platform.
It’s not very often you get to witness a new brand’s North American debut. Capping the first day of the LA Auto Show was Vietnam’s VinFast, a brand just four years old, which debuted a pair of stylish EV crossovers it hopes will help it break into the North American market. Say hello to the VinFast VF e35 and VF e36.
VinFast is part of a larger conglomerate, the largest in Vietnam in fact. The company produced just 30,000 cars last year, but it has invested billions in an aggressive plan to increase that nearly ten-fold. Key to that plan is a fully-automated production facility, and the expansion into the lucrative North American market. And we all know what the latter means: SUVs. What’s more, the company is skipping right over internal combustion engines for its debut in these parts, betting instead on EVs.
Company CEO Michael Lohscheller showed off the company’s two-pronged plan to a packed crowd late Wednesday afternoon. The VF e35 is the smaller of the offerings, a roughly Kia Niro-sized, Pininfarina-penned compact crossover. It’s a striking shape, managing to stand out from the crowd and avoid any obvious parallels to existing models. The rear three-quarter in particular is the e35’s best angle, sharp LED taillights connecting to a V-shaped full-width light bar marking it out in one of the market’s most crowded segments. The interior looked clean and minimal, with the expected big touchscreen taking center stage, though we weren’t able to poke our heads inside at the show.
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VinFast is planning two battery pack options for the VF e35, with WLTP-based estimates of 286 and 317 miles (460 and 510 km) of range.
The larger VF e36 isn’t just the same design language scaled up to a Telluride-sized package. V-shaped LED light signatures cap nose and tail, with soft yet strong wheel arches and a unique X-shaped “floating” roof design between. We couldn’t peek inside this one, but it has genuine presence.
The VF e36 will come with larger battery options, with targets of 301 and 423 miles (485 and 680 km). Both vehicles will utilize a dual-motor all-wheel drive setup, producing the same 402 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. VinFast is targeting a dash to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.5 seconds for the e35; the e36 would need an additional second.
The company also promised the required fast-charging capability, with a top-up to 70-percent happening in as little as 15 minutes. VinFast’s various other corporate cousins provide numerous other high-tech features too, such as AI-powered facial recognition software to determine driver fatigue. Or even if they’re distracted looking at a cellphone instead of, you know, driving. The company previewed a digital assistant and e-commerce platform as well.
“We are deeply motivated to inspire our customers to be bold and join the revolution to EVs to accelerate solutions that will address this crisis,” said Lohscheller. “VinFast believes that the future of mobility will be one of smart electric cars that are highly personalized and integrated with technologies that benefit life and our environment. These vehicles will do so while meeting safety standards and delivering superior and comfortable driving experiences.”
Taking a page out of both Tesla and Genesis‘ books, VinFast plans on opening company-owned showrooms in Canada and the US. Pre-orders will start in spring of next year, with the first customer deliveries expected in fall. Will the market embrace the new startup? We’re curious to find out.
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