Vietnam's VinFast enters Australia, eyes Holden assets
VinFast has its sights set on Australia, and is eyeing assets of the just wound down Holden. According to carsales.com.au, the young Vietnamese carmaker – which set up shop in Melbourne last December – has hired Holden engineers, and has showed interest in GM’s unwanted facilities.
According to the report, VinFast, which has global ambitions, moved into Port Melbourne in December 2019. VinFast Engineering Australia aims to initially employ a few hundred engineers at the centre, which is very close to Holden’s headquarters.
“Australia is a developed automobile market which has available suppliers, skills that VinFast wants to tap into. VinFast Engineering Australia is responsible for product development for some of our future car models,” VinFast deputy CEO Jim DeLuca said.
VinFast also reportedly has interest in acquiring GM’s design and engineering facilities that are about to be closed down along with the Holden brand, including the Lang Lang test centre. “We currently work with business partners to do vehicle styling and validation. We are interested in any type of vertical integration that makes us more efficient and the business more cost effective,” DeLuca said in response.
According to carsales, VinFast has already hired prominent Australian automotive execs of late, including manufacturing global VP Shaun Calvert, who worked at Holden and GM between 2001 and 2017.
Other senior hires include 25-year Holden and GM veteran Kevin Yardley, and chassis and powertrain integration chief Joe Sawyer, who has been at Holden for 23 years. It is said that up to 800 people are currently employed at Holden, including hundreds of engineering and design staff, so the pool for VinFast is big.
“We have many Australian colleagues in our plant in Vietnam who have joined us right at the beginning of the project. They have been a critical part of our family and contributing to the success of our company,” DeLuca said.
VinFast is part of the giant Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest privately held business with assets valued at up to US$35 billion (RM148 billion). Majority owned by Russian-educated Vietnamese Pham Nhat Vuong, the conglomerate has interests in real estate, the health industry, retail and even theme parks. Electric vehicles are the goal, with an aim to export EVs to the US in 2021. Vuong is even going to pour in US$2 billion (RM8.45 billion) of his own money to that goal.
“Our ultimate goal is to create an international brand. It will be a very difficult road and we will have to put in a lot of effort. But there’s only one road ahead,” Vuong said in December.
“We have the desire to build a Vietnamese brand that has a world-class reputation. Our biggest challenge is that Vietnamese products do not have an international brand. To many international friends, Vietnam is still a poor, backward country. We will have to find a way to market and prove our products represent a dynamic and developing Vietnam that has reached the highest standards of the world,” he added.
Currently, VinFast offers the Fadil city car (a rebadged Chevrolet Spark), the LUX A2.0 sedan and LUX SA2.0 SUV in its home market. The latter two were the brand’s debut models (unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show by David Beckham), and they’re based on the F10 BMW 5 Series and F15 BMW X5 respectively, with Pininfarina helping with design.
Interesting, isn’t it? Here’s an in-depth look at the ambitious VinFast and its parent company.
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