Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast delivered its first 45 cars to customers in California on Wednesday, its first sales outside Vietnam. The company, a subsidiary of conglomerate Vingroup JSC, had shipped 999 vehicles to California in November but faced more than two months of costly delays in preparing them for delivery.
Last week, the company slashed the lease price on the VF8 electric crossover by 50%.
VinFast faced anger and frustration from early reservation holders when it said the initial shipment of VF8 cars would have a lower battery range than the company had flagged in marketing.
It also dropped an option for consumers to rent the electric car’s battery, a plan it had advertised as a way to bring down the cost of ownership.
VinFast said on Wednesday the VF8 City Edition Eco, a rebranded version of the car to account for its lower range, would have an EPA estimated battery range of 207 miles (333 km).
The first cars were available for lease through US Bancorp, VinFast said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet provided a safety rating.
VinFast has signaled it expects the lease to qualify for a subsidy of up to $7,500 under the President Joe Biden administration’s incentive program payable to the finance company. VinFast is not yet certified to participate in the subsidy.
It is looking to compete with established carmakers at a time when major automakers, led by Tesla, are driving prices down and bringing a range of new EVs to market.
Analysts say quarterly results from U.S. electric vehicle startups Lucid, Rivian and electric semi truck maker Nikola all reflected pressure from lower orders, higher interest rates and increased competition.
At VinFast’s store in Marina Del Rey, California, James and Christine Wang took possession of a VF8 they had reserved earlier this year.
“We’re early adopters, we like to try things out,” said James Wang, 36.
Andrew and Nikki Le, who ordered 11 VinFast cars, took delivery of the first of those at the store. They had toured the VinFast factory in Haiphong, Vietnam in May as part of a promotion by the company, they said.
VinFast said insurers including State Farm, Allstate and Progressive would provide policies for the new model.
Vehicle subscription service Autonomy has a deal to purchase 2,500 vehicles from VinFast, the companies said last year. Autonomy did not respond to a request for comment on when it would take delivery.
With its initial vehicle deliveries stalled, VinFast cut dozens of jobs in the United States and Canada and merged those operations earlier this year.
The company is waiting for final regulatory approval to begin construction of a $4-billion plant in North Carolina.