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You probably haven’t heard of VinFast, and I don’t blame you. Not many people flinched or gave the company much thought a few years ago when Vietnam’s only home-grown car manufacturer announced its plans to enter the U.S. market with its rebodied BMW-based sedan and SUV. Now it seems like VinFast is aiming to change that perception gap, because it is all over my personal social media, even partnering with popular American automotive content creators, such as Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained. This type of advertising reminds me of a previous Ford campaign called the Fiesta Movement.

Welcome to Headlight. This is a daily news feature that lights up one current event in the car world and breaks it down by three simple subheadings: What Happened, Why It Matters, and What To Look For Next. Look for it in the morning (Eastern time) every weekday.

What Happened?

As I was browsing my Instagram feed, I saw Engineering Explained’s #ad post and Instagram reel announcing VinFast’s U.S. lineup. I thought nothing of it, until I scrolled down and saw an advertisement from VinFast, yet again building hype for its U.S. plans. Out of curiosity, I clicked the hashtag #VinFast and discovered a handful of other car content creators getting in on some good ol’ sponsored content for VinFast.

The timing of seeing these advertisements make sense, as VinFast had a lot to show at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year. It announced its plans to become 100 percent electric by the end of 2022, effectively killing its BMW and GM-based ICE efforts. It also showed off a series of near-production-looking electric car prototypes that span a range of automobile genres from A (city car) to E (full-size) segments.

Why It Matters

Being Vietnam’s first home-grown automaker to go global is impressive in and of itself, but VinFast also seems to have its pulse on what we think will be the future: electric crossovers. The crossovers feature near-production-ready designs, look competent, and seem to hit all the correct notes with range and price. 

Some have accused the company of being vaporware, akin to other EV startups that have shown off chic 3D renderings, but VinFast has made cars before. Its BMW and GM-based ICE efforts have been on sale since 2018, and they’re made in Vietnam. Its first electric car, a small crossover called e34, has been on sale in Vietnam since March 2021. As proven by this video, it’s a fully functioning car that Vietnamese citizens can buy today.

Using social media stars as a way to build brand awareness is unconventional but not unheard of. Does anyone remember Ford’s Fiesta Movement? Back in the late 2000s, Ford recruited social media stars to make videos and content involving the Ford Fiesta. It was a huge success and dramatically increased awareness of the nameplate that hadn’t existed in the U.S. since the 1970s. At the very least, this shows that VinFast is serious about the U.S. market, and it has some dough, drive, and aspirations behind its operations.

What To Expect Next

This seems to be the first wave in a plan to make VinFast a permanent fixture in the United States and Europe. Expect more VinFast news, advertisements, and coverage as the company attempts to generate hype behind its brand.

Still, building cars is hard. Yes, VinFast has one EV on sale in its home market of Vietnam, but scaling production of new models to be sold all around the globe is extremely difficult. VinFast is starting out strong, so watch this space. You might see a Vietnamese EV on roads sooner than you’d think.

What to read next:

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  • EV test drive and review: The 2021 Polestar 2 feels like a Lancer Evo made by Crate & Barrel.
  • Mercedes-Benz previously said three-box sedans look bad as electric cars. The 620-mile Vision EQXX Concept shows off its alternative design.

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