The VinFast VF 9 heads to the U.S. with big ambitions - SUV VEHICLE

The VinFast VF 9 heads to the U.S. with big ambitions

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As a large SUV, the VinFast VF 9 is potentially the Vietnamese brand’s model of highest interest to American customers. It’s fully electric and considerably cheaper than the U.S.-built Rivian R1S. Expected to be available at all company-owned and third-party dealerships, of which VinFast expects to amount to 130 outlets combined by the end of 2024, the flagship EV could become its most popular model in our market.

Previously said to go on sale in the U.S. in Q4 2023, the VF 9 is running behind schedule. However, in March 2024, I had a chance to view the VF 9 in the metal at the 2024 Bangkok International Motor Show, where it was making its local debut. Here are my first impressions of the VF 9 electric SUV:

Design

The VinFast VF 9 has an upright exterior, which is in line with the liking of American customers. It’s not entirely traditional, though, as I noticed at the show that it sits quite low for an SUV of its length and width. In my opinion, this stance helps it look sportier than its rivals. I liked the sleek and assertive headlamps, which I think endowed it with a sure-footed impression at first glance.

If you were to ask me, one of the most attractive design cues of the VF 9’s exterior is the wraparound rear side glass, as the resulting seamless transition from the profile to the rear lends it an upscale appearance. This feature also underlines the width of the large SUV. Along with the sleek windows lying on the same horizontal axis, it forms an interesting X-shaped motif on the sides and enhances the SUV’s sophisticated exterior.

VinFast VF 9 side profile live image
The highlight of this angle is its wraparound glass that provides a seamless transition from the profile to the rear. The VF 9 is available with wheels as big as 22 inches.

VinFast manufactures the VF 9 at its domestic factory on Cat Hai Island, and I didn’t see any irregularities in the SUV’s build quality. The U.S. will initially get the flagship model from the same plant, but it will switch to locally built units later.

Interior

Stepping into and out of the VinFast VF 9 was pretty easy for me, thanks to the fixed running boards, not to say the cabin is uncomfortably high. Inside, the black and brown color scheme exuded a sense a premium vehicle, but I didn’t feel I was sitting in a proper luxury model that could beat, say, the Volvo EX90. Aesthetically, too, I think this cabin isn’t the best in business and the Rivian R1S still holds the pole position in that regard.

VinFast VF 9 interior
The VinFast VF 9, unlike any of its rivals, doesn’t feature an instrument cluster. Image: Vinfast

The interior of the VinFast VF 9 is clean and minimalist, using as few physical controls as possible. The focal point of the cabin is a large landscape central display that measures 15.6 inches diagonally.

I think first-time EV buyers might have a hard time adjusting because of the omission of an instrument cluster. A full-color heads-up display (HUD) is part of the new-age cockpit, though. Relying on the HUD for the primary driving information could be a difficult adjustment initially, but I believe it could lead to significantly reduced distraction compared to driving a vehicle with an instrument cluster, particularly a fancy, fully digital display.

VinFast offers the VF 9 in the U.S. in a 7-seat version and also in a more comfort-oriented 6-seat version. This particular unit was the latter, featuring two captain’s chairs instead of a bench for three people in the second row. The captain’s chairs feature massage, ventilation, and heating functions. The front seats in the 6-seat version also carry the same comfort functions.

VinFast VF 9 third row seat live image
The VinFast VF 9 is available with vegan leather upholstery.

Safety

As VinFast’s flagship model, the VF 9 is being developed to meet North American and European safety standards. It is targeting a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA and Euro NCAP. The company has equipped its flagship SUV with 11 airbags and ADAS features, including but not limited to Remote Parking Assist, Smart Summon Mode, Traffic Jam Assist, and Highway Assist.

Specifications

The VinFast VF 9 uses a 123 kWh (net) battery pack that can be charged from 10 to 70% as quickly as 35 minutes. On a full charge, it delivers an EPA-estimated range of up to 330 miles. It powers two electric motors, which together generate 402 hp and 457 lb.-ft. of torque and allow the EV to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds (targeted).

VinFast VF 9 front three quarter live image
The VinFast VF 9 has a maximum EPA-estimated range of 330 miles.

VinFast has tied up with Electrify America for the charging of its EVs in the U.S. The company says that U.S. customers will get two years of complimentary charging sessions at what happens to be America’s largest open ultra-fast charging network. There are 800 Electrify America charging stations, with about 3,500 individual chargers available to use or with construction completed. These chargers offer charging at 150 kW, and at up to 350 kW in many locations.

U.S. production

VinFast will establish its American factory in the Triangle Innovation Point mega-site, located in Chatham County, North Carolina. Spread across approximately 1,800 acres, this production site will facilitate electric car and bus production and assembly, EV battery production, and ancillary industries for suppliers. Production will begin by the end of 2025, with an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles in the first phase.

VinFast VF 9 front three quarter right side live image
The VinFast VF 9 will likely enter production in the U.S. by the end of 2025.

Price

The VinFast VF 9 begins at USD 69,800, and its customer deliveries should commence later in Spring 2024.

TopElectricSUV says

VinFast seems to be seriously committed to America’s transition to electric vehicles. The company is coming out with its big guns, launching the large and pricey models first – VF 8 and VF 9. The VF 9, its flagship EV, will lure family SUV buyers with a luxurious and spacious interior, a worry-free driving range that’s suitable for long-distance traveling, and purchase options that offer flexibility and more savings than competitors. While it doesn’t have the wow factor of the Rivian R1S, it could turn out to be a good value-for-money product.

VinFast VF 9 FAQs

What is the VinFast VF 9 release date?

VinFast VF 9 deliveries in the U.S. should commence later in Spring 2024.

What is the VinFast VF 9 price?

The VinFast VF 9’s prices start at $69,800.

Which models are VinFast VF 9 rivals?

The VinFast VF 9 will rival the Rivian R1S and the Volvo EX90.

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