Vietnam-based electric car manufacturer VinFast is making its way across the U.S. and has chosen Orange County as one of its initial markets.
The firm, which in December filed to go public on the Nasdaq, has set up its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, while placing service centers all over California. Other key international markets include Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
VinFast opened 10 stores across California last year, with an Irvine location debuting at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center in December. The facility, roughly the same size as a typical Tesla retail store, is on the south side of the center near Nordstrom.
The local store allows guests to get a look at VinFast’s latest two electric SUVs, the VF 8 and VF 9, which start at $59,000 and $83,500, respectively. Early reservations are set to open in March.
The VF 8 is reported to get about 293 miles on a full charge and the VF 9 can travel up to 369 miles.
“This is an ideal location for VinFast to introduce its brand and products to local customers,” Chief Executive Giang Nguyen told the Business Journal, pointing to the mall’s large customer traffic and number of high-end brands.
While Irvine Co.’s Fashion Island center counts several EV and other car sales spots—last year the Newport Beach mall saw the OC debut for Silicon Valley-based luxe EV maker Lucid Motors, whose vehicles start around $140,000—the landlord’s Irvine Spectrum Center is lighter on auto tenants.
The automaker had previously showcased its VF 8 SUV in Garden Grove, home to one of the country’s largest Vietnamese communities.
“Orange County is considered the ‘electric vehicle hub’ of South California, with Irvine being one of the cities with the largest consumption of electric vehicles,” Nguyen said, citing the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
The Orange County Automobile Dealers Association (OCADA) reported that 21.9% of OC car buyers went electric in 2022. This is almost four times more than the national average of EV adoption, according to OCADA Executive Director John Sackrison.
Sackrison said that a third of the vehicles registered in OC last year have some sort of electrification to them and will appeal to more people as companies continue developing EV offerings.
OC is the second-largest EV market in the country ranked by market value—behind Silicon Valley.
VinFast anticipates opening 34 new retail locations this year, all in California. About 100 U.S. stores are planned for the next five years, according to Nguyen.