Could this help the fledgling automaker snap up a bigger piece of the pie?
Vietnamese automaker VinFast is nearing the release of two important electric vehicles, the VF 8 and VF 9. We learned pricing details on the US models a short while ago, and now the company has announced a good sales idea for European customers.
VinFast partnered with FCA Bank, Stellantis Group's financial arm, to provide the financing. FCA Bank will handle payment collections and offer other financial and credit services to customers. Insurance and other products may be on the menu in the future.
It's the first such deal for the bank, which had never before offered financing to non-Stellantis vehicles. The agreement is excellent for VinFast, as the bank has nearly two million clients in 18 countries across Europe, giving the automaker the geographic footprint it will need to survive and grow. No plans for a US-based partnership have been announced, but the automaker plans to build its vehicles here, so the commitment runs deep.
VinFast made news at the New York International Auto Show this year when it announced a novel scheme to price its batteries and vehicles separately. Under the program, buyers pay the lease price for the car and another amount for the battery, which comes with a mileage limitation.
Like a smartphone data contract, a per-mile charge kicks in once the limit has been passed. An unlimited-mileage option is available for a higher price. VinFast will offer the battery lease program through 2023, at which point buyers can continue renting the battery or choose to buy it. It's completely different from every other automaker, even Volvo, which offers a vehicle subscription on models like the XC40 that wraps all costs into one monthly charge.
That said, the automaker's pricing announcement wrapped the two charges together. In Germany, the VF 8 starts at €499 per month with an €8,650 first installment and the VF 9 at €699 with an €11,350 first installment. The VF 8 requires a €150 deposit, but the 9 takes a €2,150 deposit. The upside is that VinFast says it will give out either a €2,500 or €4,500 voucher, and the government will hand out incentives to cover most of the massive first installment. These are different than the incentives we see here, which at the federal level involve tax credits instead of an upfront reduction in costs.
Buyers in the Netherlands and France pay similar monthly charges, though the VF 9 is €899 and €799 in the Netherlands. The lease term extends 37 months in France and Germany and 60 months in the Netherlands. VinFast says the terms it outlined in its announcement are valid through the VinFast exclusive program, which ends on May 30. New terms will be available after that, so it's possible the program will offer extended terms or other updates.
Vietnamese automaker VinFast will release the VF 8 and VF 9 here in the US this year. The first versions will start at around $41,000 for the VF 8 and $56,000 for the VF 9. The automaker says it will provide a lifetime warranty on the battery and notes that any unit with a capacity that drops below 70% will be replaced free of charge. That could be even better than Rivian's "squeaks and rattles included" warranty.