An EV splash

1 minute read

When TIME visited auto manufacturer VinFast’s EV factory in northern Vietnam in 2022, Google Maps still showed half the site as under the South China Sea; the land had been reclaimed and made operational in just 21 months. Yet even that lightning pace pales in comparison with VinFast’s August IPO, with shares rocketing 700% over two weeks. The excitement was over the company’s unique model: selling cars at a low price without a battery, then leasing the battery to the buyer and swapping it free of charge when it eventually degrades. VinFast has since lost 90% of its peak value, though it retains bold plans to triple vehicle delivery in 2024 to 100,000. Backed by Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, who made his fortune in instant noodles but whose sprawling VinGroup empire ranges from hotels to hospitals, VinFast is opening factories in North Carolina, Indonesia, and India. Despite posting a $618.3 million loss in the first quarter of 2024, Vuong has vowed to at least break even next year, pledging an additional $1 billion of his personal wealth to make it happen. “We will never let VinFast go,” Vuong told shareholders in April.

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