Vietnamese automaker VinFast said it had begun exporting vehicles with the first batch of 999 battery powered VF8 SUVs shipped to the US earlier this month.

In Vietnam, 999 is considered a lucky number.

VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said some of the VF8 models shipped to the US were destined for EV subscription company Autonomy but most were to fulfil orders placed by US retail buyers.

Autonomy has ordered 2,500 EVs from VinFast so far, becoming the largest corporate buyer.

By fulfilling this export order, VinFast has succeeded in establishing a Vietnamese vehicle production hub for global markets with the company also targeting exports to south east Asia and Europe in the near future.

VinFast, which began producing vehicles only in 2018, plans to ship a second batch of EVs from its factory in Haiphong in northern Vietnam to the US in January.

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By GlobalData

VinFast, part of Vietnam’s largest private conglomerate Vingroup, announced earlier this year it planned to enter the US market by the end of 2022, initially with vehicles imported from Vietnam and later from a local plant.

The company began construction of a vehicle assembly and battery plant in North Carolina in March with completion of the 150,000 unit/year facility scheduled for mid-2024.

Earlier this year, the company said it had registered for an initial public offering (IPO) with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to help fund construction of the US plant.

The automaker claimed to have received 65,000 EV global orders to date and expected to produce and sell 750,000 annually by 2026.

It appeared to be running behind schedule, however, having previously said it planned to ship 5,000 vehicles to the US by the end of 2022.

The VF8 is a five door, all wheel drive SUV powered by Samsung SDI batteries with a maximum power output of 402hp and a maximum range of 292 miles. Prices in the US start from US$42,000 excluding battery subscription and $57,000 with batteries.