VinFast, a Vietnam-based automotive startup of conglomerate Vingroup, and the government of North Carolina announced Tuesday the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of VinFast’s first North American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant.

The company intends to invest up to $2 billion in the project’s phase one, creating thousands of jobs, VinFast said in a statement.

According to the statement, VinFast’s factory will create a major manufacturing center in Chatham County’s Triangle Innovation Point megasite, covering an area of 800-hectares, with three main areas: electric cars and buses production and assembly, EV batteries production and ancillary industries for suppliers.

Construction for phase one of the factory will start in 2022 after a construction permit is granted and production is expected to start in July, 2024. The capacity of phase one is expected to be 150,000 vehicles per year.

According to the MOU, VinFast will continue to invest in this factory in future phases. Vehicles to be produced at the site include the VinFast VF 9, a seven-passenger all-electric Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) and the VinFast VF 8, a 5- passenger, all-electric mid-size SUV.

“North Carolina is quickly becoming the center of our country’s emerging, clean energy economy. VinFast’s transformative project will bring many good jobs to our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

This project will generate thousands of jobs for local communities. The North Carolina Department of Commerce coordinated the state’s recruitment of VinFast, which also involved state, regional, and local organizations.

“Automotive assembly plants are incredible engines for economic growth, due to the positive ripple effects they create across a region’s economy. I’m so pleased that VinFast has decided to launch their North America manufacturing operations from our state, and we’ll work hard to make sure they find the skilled workforce they’ll need to grow and thrive in North Carolina,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders.

VinFast, founded in 2017, is a global producer of premium automobiles. Headquartered in Hanoi, the carmaker boasts a state-of-the-art vehicle production facility in Haiphong, Vietnam, that will have the capacity to produce 950,000 vehicles per year by 2026.

The company has established global operations in the United States, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The company currently provides an ecosystem of EV products in its home country of Vietnam, including e-scooters, electric buses and electric cars, charging station system and green energy solutions.

“North Carolina’s strong commitments in building a clean energy economy, fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation make it an ideal location for VinFast to develop its premium, smart and environmentally friendly EVs. Having a production facility right in the market will help VinFast to proactively manage its supply chain, maintain stablized prices and shorten product supply time, making VinFast’s Evs more accessible to customers, contributing to the realization of local environmental improvement goals,” said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global Chief Executive Officer.

The project in North Carolina affirms VinFast’s commitment in investing and developing business in its international markets in general and the United States in particular. It will also ensure VinFast’s self-reliance in global manufacturing.

According to the statement, VinFast is the only premium Vietnamese car producer and has completed the construction, installation of its factory in Haiphong and developed its first three car models in just 21 months.

Recently, Vingroup started construction of a battery plant in Ha Tinh, Vietnam on a eight hectare plot for phase one, with a capacity of five gigawatt hours (GWh) per year. The facility is expected to be fully installed and running at full capacity from late 2022.

Last November, VinFast announced the VF 8 and VF 9 (previously introduced as VF e35 and VF e36) at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show. The EV maker also introduced three new EVs (VF 5, VF 6 and VF 7) at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which combined with the earlier models allows the company to serve all five major vehicle segments, from small crossover to large SUV.

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