Nascent EV automaker VinFast is spending January trying to find its feet in the rapidly shifting U.S. market, some of the wobbles self-inflicted. After bringing a first batch of VF8 crossovers to the West Coast in December, reservation holders were informed every unit on the cargo ship was a previously unheard of “limited release” variant called the City Edition set aside “for VinFirst Pioneer customers only.” In a letter to expectant shoppers, VinFast said City Edition came with a 179-mile range instead of the 260-mile or 277-mile range promised in April last year. Not only that, the automaker delayed its battery subscription program that was going to cost $169 per month for the VF 8 and give customers unlimited miles. New pricing for the VF8 was $56,700 for the City Edition Eco, the City Edition Plus starting at $63,700, and a base VF 8 Eco starting at $60,200 whenever it arrives. All those prices include the $1,200 destination fee. A California-only lease program starts at $519 a month.
Then Tesla lopped a bunch of money off the price of the Model 3 and Model Y, sending some competing EV companies back to their calculators, VinFast one of them. The retail site now proclaims “a special VF 8 City Edition promotional program for the U.S. market” that takes $6,500 off both prices. That makes the VF 8 City Edition Eco MSRP $50,200, the City Edition Plus MSRP $57,200. On top of that, the site says, “Customers will receive an additional direct discount of $3,000 off the MSRP.” Assuming final prices of $47,200 and $54,200 before options, the City Editions would still be above, but much closer to, initial pricing announced last April of $41,200 for the VF 8 Eco and $49,200 for the VF 8 Plus.
Range has increased as well, but it’s still wanting. VinFast said an OTA update this month would increase range, the new City Editions now touted as going an estimated 207 miles on a charge instead of 179 or 180. Yes, it’s a good improvement. However, the number still lags far behind the 260-mile and 277-mile ranges for the VF 8 Eco and Plus, respectively, that VinFast mentioned in April last year when the crossover was less expensive.
The Tesla Model Y Dual Motor starts at $54,880 and goes 330 miles on a charge. That’s a nifty $7,680 more than the VinFast VF 8 City Edition Eco, $680 more than the VF 8 City Edition Plus. The thing is, for now, until March this year, the Model Y is eligible for the $7,500 tax credit. Getting the full amount would make the Tesla just $180 more than the base City Edition and a whole lot less than the premium City Edition Pro. Last year, VinFast said certain customers could receive the tax credit anyway, but it’s not clear if that’s still the case; our guess is the tax credit provision is where the new discount comes from, applied to all customers instead of a subset. We don’t know how the new pricing is meant to sway Tesla shoppers, though. The VinFast Reddit boards were already full of reservation holders discussing how to get out of buying what feels like a bait-and-switch in the City Edition, and now they’re peppered with commenters saying they swapped their VF 8 reservations for a Model Y.
EV makers, like Rome, aren’t built in a day — even Tesla spent many years becoming *Tesla.* We’re sure teams at VinFast’s new consolidated North American HQ are braced for a few stormy years, all of which might be passable if the company would stop punching holes its own boat.