Vietnamese automaker VinFast will open six U.S. dealerships this week and 30 by the end of 2022, all in California.
The company says it will cut the ribbon for stores in Berkeley, Commerce, Corte Madera, San Diego, San Mateo, and Santa Monica July 14. The stores will stock two EVs at first.
Two SUVs initially
One is the 2-row VF8 electric SUV, priced from $40,700. It boasts 402 total horsepower from a pair of electric motors. The company claims a range of up to 292 miles, but the EPA hasn’t weighed in on that. Those numbers come from European testing, which tends to estimate longer ranges than American testing.
The other is the 3-row VF9, priced from 55,000. It shares the VF8’s powertrain but claims up to 369 miles of range (with the same caveats) thanks to a larger battery.
Batteries for lease, not sale
And batteries are the most interesting part of the VinFast story. At first, the company plans for buyers to subscribe to a battery rather than buy one. Two subscription plans – one with unlimited mileage and one good for 310 miles of driving a month – are available.
EV battery performance degrades over time. The advantage of a battery subscription, VinFast says, is that the company promises to replace any battery that falls below 70% of its promised capacity and handle all battery repairs free of charge. The disadvantage? You never own it.
At launch, an unlimited-mileage subscription costs $110 a month for the 2-row VF8 and $160 a month for the larger VF9. This, VinFast says, is a permanent subscription fee for the product’s lifetime.
Limited-mileage options include a monthly fixed fee ($35 for the VF8 and $44 for the VF9), plus per-mile charges from $0.11 to $0.15. VinFast does not appear to make a similar promise that these fees will never rise.
The company says it will offer the option to purchase batteries by 2024.
VinFast plans a lineup of five electric vehicles in the coming years.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.