Pham Nhat Vuong is Southeast Asian country’s richest man and now in charge of the new automaker, is so intent on exporting electric vehicles to the lucrative American market in 2021 that he’s plowing as much as $2 billion of his own fortune to reach that goal.
His cash would account for half the capital investment of VinFast, which began delivering cars to Vietnamese consumers with BMW-licensed engines earlier this year and aims to expand into electric vehicles.
“Our ultimate goal is to create an international brand,” the 51-year-old tycoon said in an interview at the Hanoi headquarters of the car company’s parent Vingroup JSC, which Vuong is Founder and Chairman. “It will be a very difficult road and we will have to put in a lot of effort. But there’s only one road ahead.”
The homegrown cars made under Vuong’s sprawling real estate-to-hospitals conglomerate faces an uphill battle to succeed overseas. Carmakers such as India’s Tata Motors Ltd. and Malaysia’s Proton Holdings Bhd. struggled to win over consumers away from their home turf. Even in Vietnam, VinFast Trading and Production LLC has formidable competition from established foreign players such as Toyota, Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai.
Shares of Vingroup fell as much as 2% Tuesday. The benchmark VN Index of Vietnamese stocks dropped 0.6%.
VinFast follows a long list of Chinese automakers that have also had ambitions to sell vehicles in the U.S. going back more than a decade.
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