Vietnamese startup is venturing into the USA for the first time. However, the VinFast VF8 has so many problems that it is becoming a unique case in the recent car history
- VinFast VF8 is the first car of the Vietnamese automaker to be sold in the USA
- Pininfarina style and 2-row compact SUV body aim at a huge market segment
- Several problems, mostly with ADAS, earned it a collectively bad press feedback
Developing a new car requires a lot of time and money. Automakers have to work on design, powertrain, dynamics, ergonomics, NVH… not to mention the car’s marketing campaign and maintenance plan. That is why this process usually takes a few years and some millions of dollars. Having all that in mind, one can think that automakers will only release a car in the market once it is absolutely perfect, right?
Sadly, that is not always the case. Recalls, for example, have become common even among new cars for a variety of reasons. In some situations, they are so frequent that dealers are even turning against the car’s manufacturer. There have been others where the car had to undergo last-minute changes. But this time, we are going to focus on another one. A much rarer situation which is now starred by the VinFast VF8.
What is VinFast?
Founded in Vietnam and based in Singapore, this is the automotive branch of Vingroup, a huge company that operates in many fields. VinFast first built thermal cars based on outgoing BMW projects, but quickly moved to fully electric cars. Nowadays, it is transitioning to a whole new line that goes from the compact named VF5 to the large SUV named VF9. The largest two of those models were designed by Pininfarina.
As you can see, the company has solid finances, a high-quality project, good design, and the fashionable electric powertrain. It was only a matter of time to pack its bags and try to prosper in high-selling regions. The USA is a massive consumer of SUVs, so the automaker decided to take the bold step of exporting its first model there. The VinFast VF8, a two-row compact SUV, is already on its way to local consumers.
VinFast VF8 in the USA
In the beginning of May, the specialized press published their reviews of this car. And, to keep it in a few words, they were negative. Among the test cars provided by VinFast, there were turn signals that did not work. Climate controls with no gradual setting. Excessive vibration in unusual situations. Poor connection between suspension and steering wheel. And an inconsistent operation of multiple electronic systems.
We can mention another group of problems which can only be considered “secondary” now that we have gone through those others. The VinFast VF8 resets some electronic settings whenever you turn it off. The built-in navigation system could connect to the Internet on its own. And the interface switches to US units sometime after booting, like when an appearance app loads only a while after the phone’s base system.
Recipe for disaster?
In the 1960s, the Chevrolet Corvair faced strong criticism because its suspension design caused dynamic instability. In the 1970s, the Ford Pinto made the news because the position of its fuel tank made it easy to catch fire in the event of a rear collision. The Zastava Yugo became a global joke in the 1980s because its low cost came at the expense of poor build quality. Do you remember any other examples like those?
If your answer is “no”, that is exactly the point. Building a bad car benefits literally no one. When it comes to the VinFast VF8, the carmaker says that those issues only occurred with the test units. However, having such bad reviews definitely does not help. The model starts at US$ 54,200, which is not exactly cheap. The higher its price, the less tolerant buyers will be to issues of any kind, let alone multiple ones like those.
How to save the VinFast VF8?
In the 1990s, Brazil lifted a two-decade-old import ban. That made automakers of all regions rush into the country; local buyers were thirsty for new cars, and they knew it. However, that rush prevented them from properly adapting their cars to the local driving conditions. Problems became more likely than usual at a time when those companies were still building their supply chain of spare parts. Things did not end well.
VinFast rushed to the USA pretty much like that. It overlooked aspects that might not seem important to the company but directly impact on people’s experience. The only way they could disregard those aspects would be if the VF8 had a low price, but that is not the case. The Vietnamese automaker is asking them to trade the likes of the Audi Q4 e-tron or the Volvo XC40 Recharge for a model with that sort of problems.
Since the VinFast VF8 is already reaching its buyers, we can only hope for the best. However, we can also already consider it a cautionary tale. As Jalopnik has written, it has “obliterated the notion that there are no terrible cars for sale anymore”. If the company acts quickly to identify possible problems and to solve them, it still has a chance to thrive. Otherwise, it will end as just another trivia fact in automotive history.
You may also like
The VinFast VF8 is a two-row SUV. Now that you have read all about it, it is time to check a larger type. Lexus has just released two very interesting options with three rows of seats.
Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.