VinFast Allegedly Faked Its Sales Numbers, Its Vehicles Are Actually Rotting in Fields

VinFast allegedly faked its sales numbers 7 photos
Photo: @hntrbrkmedia via X
VinFast allegedly faked its sales numbersVinFast allegedly faked its sales numbersVinFast allegedly faked its sales numbersVinFast allegedly faked its sales numbersVinFast VF8The VinFast lineup
A Hunterbrook Media investigation revealed that things are going really bad for VinFast, which barely sells any cars. The information is confirmed by a Reuters report, which shows that 70% of VinFast's deliveries last year were to other companies owned by its CEO, Pham Nhat Vuong.
The Vietnamese EV maker VinFast reported a stellar first quarter, with a 444% jump in deliveries over last year. However, this could be only a smoke screen, with the vehicles being sold between affiliated companies instead of to real customers. Even worse, the carmaker's main production facility in Vietnam operates at just 12% of its 300,000-vehicle annual capacity. The information surfaced after Hunterbrook Media and Reuters investigated VinFast's operations.

Hunterbrook Media's investigation started after the outlet came across a video on YouTube showing hundreds of VinFast vehicles rotting in a field. The vehicles were previously sold to a company owned by VinFast's CEO, Pham Nhat Vuong. However, when the journalists tried to find the video later, it was gone from the platform. Luckily, they had screenshots showing employees admitting that the vehicles were stored on location for a long time.

After gathering satellite imaging and other open-source intelligence data (OSINT), they asked for help from the Bellingcat geolocation community to locate the field in the video. The investigation revealed that this was one of the several places in Vietnam where VinFast vehicles sold to companies owned by Pham Nhat Vuong were stored. Using trade records, financial analysis, and on-the-ground reporting, Hunterbrook Media discovered that hardly anyone is buying VinFast's electric vehicles.

The investigation revealed obscure practices and cover-ups, lining up with a broader pattern of information suppression in Vietnam. According to Hunterbrook Media, articles critical of the VinFast were taken down, while critics ended up in jail. It's a story similar to others in authoritarian countries. Last year, people discovered similar EV graveyards in China, where carmakers abandoned electric cars that nobody wanted.

No stone turned at VinFast's US factory in North Carolina

VinFast is lying not only to its Vietnamese peers but also to the US customers and investors. The company announced a big US expansion, with a $4 billion factory planned in North Carolina. The factory should've started production by the end of 2024, but no stone has been moved nine months after breaking ground. Where there should've been at least some preliminary construction, satellite imagery shows there's only a dirt patch. Hunterbrook Media reporters visited the construction site on two weekdays in February, only to find no construction workers present.

The information has been confirmed by a county spokesperson for the Raleigh News & Observer news outlet. Shortly after the News & Observer article was published detailing the lack of progress at the site with the help of drone imagery, VinFast filed a new construction plan with Chatham County. The North Carolina factory is only one of VinFast's planned investments in manufacturing facilities, with others announced in India and Indonesia.

However, it's unclear why VinFast would need additional production capacity since it has difficulties finding buyers for vehicles made at its Hai Phong, Vietnam factory. The company delivered fewer than 35,000 vehicles in 2023, or 12% of the factory's capacity. More than 70% of these deliveries were to other companies owned by VinFast CEO Pham Nhat Vuong, according to SEC filings revealed by a Reuters investigation earlier this month. The report shows that roughly 90% of VinFast's total sales revenues come from these vehicles.

Trying to sell the worst cars in North America

The North Carolina production facility has a planned capacity of 150,000 EVs. This seems like a lot for the US market, especially after VinFast sold only 265 vehicles here. VinFast has shipped 3,118 cars to the US, but most are still stored at the California port terminal months after the last shipment arrived. AIS data show that no new shipments have arrived in the US since then.

The fact that many car reviewers said that the VinFast VF8 is among the worst you could buy surely did not help. Such an overwhelming consensus in criticizing a new vehicle is unprecedented. Reviewers reported problems ranging from "flaky turn signals" to "suspension that induces nausea," according to a Jalopnik round-up. The bad reporting came despite VinFast offering $100 in prepaid debit cards to journalists in the US testing out the vehicles.

YouTuber Matt Farah was offered a paid trip to Vietnam plus $10,000 for his time, which he refused. However, droves of automotive journalists arrived in Vietnam to test VinFast's vehicles. Despite the incentives, they were not impressed, something that VinFast should've addressed beforehand with better quality and reliability assurance at the factory.

The reviews probably caused VinFast's sales fiasco, which the Vietnamese carmaker is trying to fight with steep discounts. This made the VF8 the cheapest vehicle to lease in North America, at $249 per month with a 36-month contract and $944 due at signing. This amounts to more than $20,000 off the list prices, including a $7,500 rebate to compensate for the lack of the federal tax credit.

It's unclear where the company will be heading from here. The EV market is in a tight corner, with carmakers slashing prices and preparing for rough waters ahead. Fisker is heading for bankruptcy and doesn't have the worst cars in the US. For VinFast, the story could end before it even started.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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