February will be a big month.
April will be another big month.
So far, for Canada, sound decisions are being made.
If you visit our websites regularly, you now know who and what VinGroup is. If not, they are Vietnam’s largest conglomerate of businesses that dabbles in real estate, technologies, and car manufacturing. VinFast has rapidly become their flagship global brand and they have North America in their sights.
As the first auto show on the circuit to open its doors in North America and Canada in 2023, VinFast decided to go all out and not only bring the midsize VF 9 three-row and VF 8 SUVs, but they also packed up the VF 6 and VF 7 SUVs that were revealed in Los Angeles, then at the CES less than two weeks ago. The unfortunate fact that there are very few automakers on the show floor this year has enabled the new automaker to gather up plenty of real estate for its booth which looks decidedly airy, clean, and welcoming.
It was there on press day that we had a brief conversation with Daniel Morello, Official Spokesperson/ Director, Customer Commitment at VinFast Auto Canada. The discussion was enlightening and here are the major takeaways from the talk:
Challenges today, and tomorrow
As a start-up, everything needs to be done. From establishing every conceivable form of plan including product development and production to communicating it all to the media, the task at hand is monstrous. Morello, who’s worked for both Honda and BMW in different and related roles, welcomes the challenge and will put his experience to good use.
He recognizes that the automaker’s biggest obstacle will be brand recognition. However, much like Tesla, VinFast is already garnering staunch supporters who will endorse, encourage, and defend the company. The “kool-aid” drinkers are a must and will inevitably help promote the automaker to new heights.
Despite there not being any actual vehicles on the road in Canada yet, VinFast Canada’s customer support and contact center are already live and online. And the department is based in Montreal thanks to Morello. The reasons behind this decision are quite simple: Quebec has historically been at the forefront of not only giving new brands a chance (Hyundai and Kia being examples) but the market has shown considerable interest in electrification.
The other is language. Although no figures were discussed, sales in the province should be strong and likely account for a large portion of deliveries. Morello, therefore, felt compelled to properly serve its customers no matter where they live in Canada.
The conversation veered inevitably towards the product itself. Though the VF 6 and VF 7 are exceptionally attractive, thousands of North American reservation holders are looking forward to getting their hands on a VF 8 or VF 9.
As it stands, both are not yet homologated in Canada meaning they cannot legally be driven on our roads. Morello says that federal approval is only a few weeks away. Another extremely important happening is expected to take place in February and that’s Natural Resources Canada’s official range ratings. Currently, VinFast uses WLTP range numbers which are, as we know, typically more generous than EPA and NRCan’s numbers.
Once both elements are sorted, all the stops will be pulled.
We reported late last year that VinFast had shipped 999 new vehicles to the US. Deliveries to customers are imminent but it will take a little while for Canadian VinFast owners to get their vehicles. Morello stated that April will mark the first Canadian deliveries meaning that production of vehicles bound for Our Home and Native Land is already underway.
Flexible, but aggressive
One of VinFast’s early attempts at trying something different was its battery leasing program. Almost immediately, it was met with resistance in North America which prompted the automaker to modify its plans – As Morello essentially put it, the market will dictate how things will unravel.
Following VinFast’s progress and evolution throughout the media reveals that they are quite aggressive. Essentially, failure is not an option, no more than it is for NASA. The group has opened two stores so far and there are at least five more planned in the near future. In Québec specifically, at least two more stores are in the works including a hub-like service center for the Greater Montreal Area.
With all of this comes big expectations from VinGroup. Profitability will not wait as long as it might take for the VinFast to become a household name like Chevrolet or Toyota. In fact, and based on our understating, the goal might be to reach that very shortly after mid-decade.
Among the many other measures will take in order to boost sales will be a promotion program. Now that Tesla’s pricing has dropped considerably, VinFast’s already critiqued high pricing structure might not be revised however will benefit from “rebates.”
The bottom line and as far as we’re concerned, the product will tell us what we need to know – we can’t wait to drive them.