HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese electric vehicle (EV) maker VinFast has launched its first partnership with a U.S.-based dealer, North Carolina-based Leith Automotive Group, its latest effort to ramp up sales in the United States market, the two companies said.
In an interview with Reuters in August, VinFast’s global chief executive said the company was changing its distribution model, which had been based on Tesla’s direct-to-consumer approach, to a “hybrid” one that included dealers.
North Carolina is home to a $4 billion VinFast manufacturing plant that is expected to start commissioning from 2026.
Aside from a sale point, Leith will be in charge of all repairs, maintenance and parts needed for VinFast vehicles, according to the joint statement.
VinFast, founded in 2017 and backed by Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup, started to deliver electric cars in California in March and made its Nasdaq debut in late August.
Last month, the EV maker said it had received 70 dealer applications across the United States, which if approved would allow VinFast to distribute its EVs through 125 points of sales nationwide.
VinFast is entering the American market at a time when EV pricing is under pressure, led by market leader Tesla and a range of Chinese companies.
It sold around 13,000 units globally in the second and third quarter this year, more than half of them to an affiliate company owned by its founder.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Edting by Frances Kerry)