Vietnam's national carmaker VinFast hasn't been off to a great start in the US market. Its first vehicle on sale in the United States, the VF8 crossover, saw just 128 new-vehicle registrations from January to May, according to Experian data cited by Automotive News.
The VinFast VF8 had one new registration in February, 16 in March, 66 in April and 45 in May. VinFast was No. 22 among the 25 brands on Experian's list of new EV registrations, followed by Jaguar, GMC, and Mazda.
VinFast has cut prices and offered lease deals to move two shiploads of VF8s that have arrived so far from Vietnam. But it appears it's having a hard time doing so.
In fairness, the VinFast VF8 is currently sold in California alone, but VinFast has plans to sell the two-row VF8 in other states as well. That said, the sales are abysmal considering that the Golden State is America's largest EV market by far, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all zero-emission vehicle sales in the country.
Gallery: 2023 VinFast VF8 City Edition: First Drive
Why is it so hard for VinFast to sell the VF8 EV in the US? For starters, the brand is largely unknown in the country, and the fact the VF8 is priced above similar vehicles from Ford, Volkswagen and Hyundai only adds insult to injury. Tesla's Model Y price cuts also didn't help VinFast's case – while the VF8 starts at $46,000, the Model Y is currently priced from $49,130 before any federal or state incentives.
Then there's the fact that the VinFast VF8 has received terrible reviews from US media, with some outlets saying it feels like a rushed product. "The VF8 feels and drives like a prototype vehicle that's a year away from launch. It needs work. A lot of work. I cannot believe this is a vehicle you can go out and buy right now," wrote InsideEVs' Steven Ewing in his review titled "Yikes."
Despite the botched launch of the VF8, the automaker has big plans for the US, announcing a lineup of EVs that it intends to sell in the market, including the three-row VF9 crossover expected this year with a targeted starting MSRP of $84,200. VinFast also plans to bring over two smaller and more affordable crossovers, the VF6 and VF7, to the US later on.
Earlier this year, VinFast postponed plans to begin building a $4 billion plant in North Carolina, pushing the start date to July 2023 from the second half of 2022. The company posted a $598 million loss in the first quarter on a 49 percent drop in revenue.