(Reuters) – HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) – Vietnam’s automaker VinFast, a unit of the country’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup VIC.HM, said it has set up its first U.S. manufacturing plant with investment of around $2 billion in the first phase of construction, as it looks to establish itself in the U.S. market.
VinFast became Vietnam’s first fully fledged domestic car manufacturer when its gasoline-powered models built under its own badge hit the streets in 2019. The company said in January it would transition to all-electric vehicle production from late 2022.
The complex, VinFast’s first factory in the United States, is located in North Carolina, on a 800-hectare (1,976 acre) plot, with a capacity of 150,000 units per annum initially, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Construction should begin this year as soon as the company is awarded a license and is expected to complete by July 2024, it said. The facility would make electric buses and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), batteries for EVs, and support suppliers.
VinFast is betting big on the U.S. market, where it hopes its electric SUVs and a battery leasing model will be enough to tempt consumers away from the likes of Tesla TSLA.O and General Motors GM.N.
“With a manufacturing facility right in the U.S. market, VinFast can stabilise prices and shorten product delivery time, making our EVs more accessible to customers, and contributing to local environmental improvement goals,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup vice chair and VinFast Global CEO.
The company, which began selling EVs in Vietnam at the end of 2021, expects to begin delivering them by the end of 2022. It is targeting global electric vehicle sales of 42,000 this year.
VinFast said prices for its VF8 sport SUV started from $41,000 in the United States, and that it would apply blockchain technology to record orders and confirm ownership. By comparison, a Tesla SUV sells for around $50,000.
Outside of North America, the company is looking for a plant in Germany, it said in January.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)