VinFast Sedan, SUV Debut In Paris With Italian Style, Big Plans

4 October 2018 - Motor1

VinFast Sedan, SUV Debut In Paris With Italian Style, Big Plans

VinFast, a new domestic automaker from Vietnam, made its debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show with two new models – and plans for several more.

VinFast, a subsidiary of Vietnam's largest privately-held business Vingroup, is an all-new automaker partnering with established automotive suppliers while attracting some top industry veterans.

The two models to debut in Paris the LUX A2.0 – sedan – and LUX SA2.0 – SUV – look the way they do thanks to a public vote by the Vietnamese people. The company commissioned sketches from Italdesign Giugiaro, Pininfarina, Torino Design, and Zagato, and then had citizens vote for their favorite.

More than 60,000 people participated, with the company taking the most popular sedan and SUV design – both from Italdesign Giugiaro – to Pininfarina for refinements, turning them into the two models we see in Paris. The sedan mimics the long hood and short rear deck of the Alfa Romeo Giulia while the SUV carries design cues that would feel right at home on a new Mazda.

Under the hood of each is the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes either 174 horsepower (130 kilowatts) and 221 pound-feet (300 Newton-meters) of torque or 227 hp (170 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque. Sedan customers can choose between the two power outputs while the SUV will only have the higher output engine available. A ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox routes power from the engine to the rear wheels for both the sedan and SUV. However, all-wheel drive is optional for the SUV thanks to a Borg Warner transfer case.

The sedan hits 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in 8.9 seconds with the 174-hp engine. That time drops to 7.1 seconds with the 227-hp engine. The SUV hits 62 mph (100 kph) in 8.9 seconds in its rear-wheel-drive configuration while the all-wheel-drive version takes 0.2 seconds more to reach 62 mph (100 kph).

This all looks great on paper. We've seen several new companies try to wiggle their way into the automotive market, but VinFast feels different. Earlier this year, the company partnered with General Motors. GM agreed to transfer its Vietnamese operations over to VinFast, which agreed to distribute Chevy vehicles in the country for the automaker. The transfer included GM's Hanoi plant, dealer network, and employee base, according to Reuters. This makes GM VinFast's preferred automotive technology provider, opening up future product and technology sharing between the companies.

This partnership will lead to a new VinFast model – a city car from GM. VinFast has the licensing rights for an all-new, global small car that will be manufactured and sold under the VinFast brand in the country, which will enter production next year at the Hanoi plant. The Vietnamese will unveil an all-new electric car next year with Italdesign Giugiaro penning the design and Germany's EDAG completing engineering development. Sales are scheduled to start in early 2020. The company also has two agreements signed with Siemens for a fully electric bus. The partnership is for electric motor manufacturing licenses and the supply of components to produce the eBus in Vietnam. The eBus should enter production by the end of 2019.

Those plans are under the leadership of chairwoman Le Thi Thu Thuy, who is also the Vice Chairwoman of Vingroup. James DeLuca, who worked with GM for 37 years, is CEO of VinFast Trading and Production while Vice President of Sales is Ms. Lê Thanh Hải, who was the General Sales and Marketing Director at General Motors Vietnam. David Lyon, who was Executive Director of Asia-Pacific Design and has 28 years of automotive design experience, is VinFast's Director of Design. GM's former Director of Manufacturing Systems and Support in Germany, Shaun Calvert, is VinFast's Vice President of Manufacturing.

Production for the VinFast LUX A2.0 and LUX SA2.0 should begin next year.

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