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Vietnam's First Cars Look Great But Are Based On Old BMW Models

Reveal / 10 Comments

Still, this seems like a great first effort from Vietnam.

The 2018 Paris Motor Show already has a number of absentee brands as several automakers have announced they will skip the event in favor of hosting their own private gatherings, citing cost as the main factor. Don't fret, because there will still be some big headlines out of this year's show, including a pair of reveals from a new company called VinFast.

If you haven't heard of VinFast, don't feel bad, because we hadn't heard of the company either. VinFast is launching two new models (a sedan and an SUV), both of which will act as the first production models from Vietnam. Paris will also be the first global auto show with a Vietnamese automaker in attendance.

We don't have the names for these upcoming vehicles as of yet, but we should receive an announcement at the Paris Motor show. The vehicles are based on the outgoing BMW F10 5 Series and F15 X5, and should both be powered by a modified version of BMW's 2.0-liter turbocharged N20 four-cylinder engine with rear- and all-wheel drive available. Both models will be available with 175-horsepower and 227-horsepower versions, and all will be mated to an eight-speed automatic.

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Though the BMW underpinnings are now a generation old, the VinFast cars do not look like they are out-of-date on the exterior. That's because they were styled by famous Italian design house Pininfarina. We think both models look excellent, especially for a first effort from a country that has little experience building cars. VinFast says it has "future-proofed" the cars with improved pedestrian protection and a focus on meeting global safety and emissions standards. This means VinFast could easily export its cars to other parts of the world.

The sedan and SUV should arrive in the third quarter of 2019, and VinFast plans to hit 500,000 sales by 2025. The cars will be produced at a GM's former Daewoo factory in Hanoi, and the company plans to introduce five new models in the next year. For now, VinFast will sell cars through Chevy dealers in Vietnam, though it will be interesting to see if the Vietnamese automaker has plans to export cars to the US. Vinfast may have based their first cars on BMW chassis, but they chose well and those models should still be ahead of many rivals for dynamics and quality, and it will be interesting to see how they are price and who they aim to compete with.