VinFast carmaker weighs additional delay for NC plant


VinFast in NC

Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced in March 2022 that it would open an electric vehicle assembly plant in North Carolina. The battery manufacturing plant will be built in Chatham County and is expected to eventually create 7,500 jobs. It’s the largest economic development announcement in the state’s history. Here is coverage from The News & Observer about the plans.

Expand All

Having already postponed its promised North Carolina factory once, the Vietnamese electric carmaker VinFast is reportedly considering an additional delay to a planned $4 billion auto plant in Chatham County. In an email Wednesday to The News & Observer, a VinFast spokesperson said the company “is conducting a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the construction process for our North Carolina factory.”

Earlier in the day, Reuters cited an unnamed source familiar with the company’s efforts in North Carolina who said the facility may not open until after 2025.

It’s been more than two years since state leaders announced VinFast would build its first foreign plant about 30 miles southwest of Raleigh near the unincorporated town of Moncure. Just over $1.25 billion in incentive benefits were offered for VinFast to create at least 7,500 local jobs this decade. More than half of the billion-plus dollars are tied to VinFast first hitting hiring and investment benchmarks while the state reserved several hundred million dollars for site preparation and surrounding road improvements.

The news was celebrated by officials from both major parties — including Gov. Roy Cooper, Senate leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore — after North Carolina had spent several decades trying to attract a major automotive assembly plant. At the time, VinFast said the facility would open in 2024, but a year later, the company acknowledged production wouldn’t start until sometime in 2025.

Now, even this timeline appears overly ambitious. Though the carmaker held an official groundbreaking ceremony at the Moncure site last July, no significant vertical construction has yet taken place. In April, the N&O reported construction had paused as VinFast revised its site building plans, which Chatham County is currently reviewing.

But there are signs the carmaker has shifted its construction focus elsewhere; in its most recent earnings reports, VinFast executives discussed plans to open assembly plants in Indonesia and India by 2026. During the same call, the company only mentioned the North Carolina site after an investor inquired about site progress.

In an email Wednesday to the N&O, Cooper spokesperson Jordan Monaghan wrote, “Our office and state commerce officials continue to work with VinFast on its plans to create thousands of jobs in Chatham County. Company officials have acknowledged navigating hurdles currently impacting global markets but have emphasized their longterm commitment to this project.”

Under a purchase option agreement North Carolina entered with VinFast In November 2022, the state has the right to buy all or parts of the 1,765-acre Moncure site should the automaker miss concrete hiring and construction deadlines. The schedule, shared with The N&O, included dates by which VinFast needed to begin construction (May 30, 2023), start building vertically (Jan. 1, 2024) and commence operations (July 1, 2026).

Since committing to Chatham, VinFast has struggled to find a market in North America amid bad initial reviews and lack of name recognition. As of last summer, the company had delivered around 350 vehicles in the United States. It has declined to share an updated figure.

VinFast reported delivering 9,689 electric vehicles globally over the first three months of 2024, a 28% decline from the previous quarter. Roughly half of these sales were made to Green and Smart Mobility, a Vietnamese taxi service controlled by VinFast’s parent company, Vingroup. Last year, company financial records show 74% of sales were made to Vingroup affiliates.

Founded in 2017, VinFast has lost more than $6 billion dollars over the past three years as it’s pivoted to produce all-electric vehicles marketed to drivers in North America and Europe.

This story was originally published May 29, 2024, 10:49 AM.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Brian Gordon is the Technology & Innovation reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He writes about jobs, start-ups and all the big tech things transforming the Triangle. Brian previously worked as a senior statewide reporter for the USA Today Network and covered education for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Source link

You may also like