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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A strong begin, however room for enchancment

As flagship VF 8 fashions proceed to make their method over to North America, Electrek was invited to VinFast’s first media drive occasion, and I used to be one of many first to expertise the restricted run Metropolis Version SUV. Whereas there’s actually room for enchancment, VinFast is off to a promising begin with the VF 8 – under are my ideas.

VinFast VF 8

Background and first impressions of the VinFast VF 8

Since we first began overlaying VinFast again in 2021, the VF 8 has been a flagship mannequin on our radar. It initially debuted within the US on the LA Auto present because the VF e35, however was rebranded a yr later to the mannequin title we acknowledge at this time.

We’ve had loads of different VinFast information to cowl within the two yr plus span because the VF 8’s debut, together with plans for US manufacturing and an IPO that seems nearer than ever. This previous fall, VinFast efficiently delivered its first batch of VF 8 SUVs to the US, though buyer deliveries had been initially delayed resulting from some software program points (extra on that later).

Thus far, VinFast has delivered the Metropolis Version of its VF 8 SUV to prospects in California and Vancouver, whereas we await deliveries of Customary model whose cargo boat simply reached the Benicia Port, close to San Francisco.

Earlier this week, I used to be one of many lucky media personnel to be invited to VinFast’s first US drive occasion and expertise the Metropolis Version of the VF 8. Right here’s what the SUV is packin’.

VinFast VF 8 specs and pricing

Let’s begin with pertinent particulars so that you’re nicely versed in VinFast’s first mid-size SUV inside and outside earlier than you hear my impressions. As I beforehand talked about, the EV presently exists in two iterations – Metropolis Version and Customary. Of these editions, the VF 8 is available in two out there trims – Eco and Plus.

Because the Customary variations aren’t but out there within the US, I used to be given a VF 8 Metropolis Version Plus for the day to cruise round Southern California. Listed below are some vital specs pertaining to the configuration I drove:

  • Motors: Twin motor (150 kW)
  • Max Energy: 300 kW
  • Max Torque: 620 Nm
  • Max Velocity: 124.3 mph
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 5.5 seconds
  • Battery capability (usable): 82 kWh
  • EPA vary: 191 miles
  • Charging time: 10-70% in beneath 24 minutes
  • Charging charge (onboard): 6.6-11 kW
  • Peak DCFC charge: as much as 160 kW
  • ADAS: Stage 2 (Freeway help, Lane preserve help, and many others.)

As you’ll be able to see, the specs listed below are first rate, however nothing to essentially drool over. That being mentioned, that is the Metropolis Version, of which VinFast solely produced 999. The incoming Customary VF 8 is touting higher specs for positive.

Whereas the Metropolis Editions are powered by Samsung battery cells, the Customary model options chemistry (cobalt manganese) from CATL, whose cells ship higher vitality density in a barely bigger pack (88.7 kWh vs. 82 kWh). We really simply received the official EPA ranges whereas we had been on the occasion, which we’ve included under.

Right here’s how the 4 totally different VF 8 will break down side-by-side:

Trim Stage Powertrain Energy EPA Vary Base Value (MSRP)
VF 8 Eco (Metropolis Version) AWD Twin Motor 348 hp
(368 lb-ft)
207 miles $49,000
VF 8 Eco (Customary) AWD Twin Motor 348 hp
(368 lb-ft)
264 miles $49,000
VF 8 Plus (Metropolis Version) AWD Twin Motor 402 hp
(457 lb-ft)
191 miles $56,000
VF 8 Plus (Customary) AWD Twin Motor 402 hp
(457 lb-ft)
243 miles $56,000

Slightly expensive in comparison with related fashions available in the market, however aggressive nonetheless. An enormous perk that US shoppers will love for my part, is the guarantee VinFast is delivering with the VF 8. The EV itself comes with a 10-year, 125,000 mile guarantee. Higher but, the automobile’s battery will get a 10-year, limitless mileage guarantee, and people ensures comply with the EV, which means a second or third proprietor nonetheless qualifies in that ten yr interval.

Sufficient concerning the numbers although, let’s hop inside and discover what this EV has to supply.

Driving impressions inside and outside

Discover something distinctive concerning the dashboard? That’s proper, no instrument cluster. This was a primary for me and after practically twenty years of driving, I discovered my eyes subconsciously diverted to the speedometer that wasn’t there.

As an alternative, the automobile’s velocity and different pertinent particulars can be found to view on the left aspect of the middle pill’s display. This took some getting used to for positive. The saving grace was the VF 8’s head-up show (HUD) which was unbelievable for my part. I didn’t even discover it at first resulting from my polarized sun shades, however out of the blue noticed it and was so elated, since there was no cluster behind the steering.

I used to be capable of regulate its place and brightness and clearly see it through the sunny climate round San Diego (I attempted to get an image of it for you seen above). Total, I discovered the cockpit roomy and its design intuitive. Each toggle or button I anticipated would do a sure perform did so, so I instantly felt at residence within the EV.

The design of the UX was additionally straightforward to navigate, though it was a little bit of a ache to should preserve deciding on the primary menu then the Apple CarPlay icon to get again to my navigation. That mentioned, bluetooth connection via wi-fi CarPlay was seamless, even after turning the EV on and off.

I feel VinFast has a superb spine of software program within the VF 8, however there are some very blatant bugs within the system. In the event you look carefully at a few of my footage of the show above, you’ll discover a number of icons lit up that shouldn’t be there.

As an example, the entire time I used to be driving, the EV mentioned I used to be in park. Flip sign icons remained illuminated regardless that the blinker wasn’t activated and at one level, I used to be instructed my seatbelt wasn’t on when it clearly was. An OTA software program patch ought to repair these minor points pretty rapidly I’d think about, however that ought to positively be carried out earlier than these automobiles attain extra drivers.

As for the general drive of the VinFast VF 8, I used to be pleasantly shocked at how sporty it was, even in Regular mode. On paper, its acceleration instances are mediocre, nevertheless it felt quite a bit speedier on the highway. I really loved Sport mode – I discovered it very “unfastened” for a mid-size SUV and had plenty of enjoyable whipping round curves as much as Lake Hodges close to Escondido.

Regenerative braking was first rate for my part, however you all know I prefer it stiff. The VF 8 is unquestionably not a one pedal driving EV, so you will have to make use of the brake usually. My greatest qualm with this automobile was the shortage of brake lock when stopped.

I used to be shocked the primary time I ended at a light-weight on a hill and got here to an entire cease, after I took my foot off the brake I instantly rolled backward like I used to be driving a handbook transmission. At this level with EVs, I’m used to coming to an entire cease and having the ability to take away my foot from both pedal. That roll again within the VF 8 is one thing I consider VinFast ought to amend instantly.

Listed below are another fast ideas:

  • I liked the panoramic glass roof and its capacity to open. It was good whereas parked subsequent to the ocean.
  • The VF 8 beeped at me method an excessive amount of. Whether or not it was lane preserve help, velocity restrict warnings, or one thing else, VinFast’s EV was continually yelling at me. Not a fan of that.
  • Regardless of the low vary on the Metropolis Version VF 8 Plus, I discovered its vitality utilization fairly environment friendly and had no worries about vary in my 3+ hours journey round city.

Electrek’s Take

I’ve personally been on the VinFast beat since October of 2021, when the automaker introduced it was coming to the US. Since then, I’ve been in contact with its workforce, stayed within the information loop, and even tried to go to Vietnam thrice with out luck resulting from my schedule.

Evidently, I’ve been trying ahead to the chance to talk with executives at VinFast (lots of that are feminine by the way in which, which we like to see) and expertise the VF 8 first hand. Following my time inside and outside of the automobile, I feel the corporate is off to a superb begin. The core design is there – however there’s room for enchancment in lots of parts of EV design.

The extra highly effective battery pack ought to go a good distance with US shoppers, as a result of any EV with an EPA beneath 200 miles in all probability received’t get a re-evaluation. Is that sufficient vary for the typical driver? Most likely, however the client market isn’t privy sufficient to vary wants and driving habits but, sadly.

Value is likely to be a problem – particularly since VinFast is a nearly unknown model within the nation. I had a number of folks in San Diego ask me concerning the EV whereas I used to be taking footage, however I used to be nonetheless getting plenty of confusion about what it really was and was requested what stage of gasoline mileage it will get regardless that I clearly said it was electrical. We’ve received a protracted strategy to go folks.

The guarantee program is a slam dunk for my part, particularly the protection of the battery and the truth that its transferrable to new homeowners. Properly carried out.

Whereas we had been on the occasion, VinFast has a VF 9 on show – its subsequent EV coming to the US. I feel this one goes to do nicely with US shoppers – VinFast’s most vital market in accordance with North American CEO Van Anh Nguyen.

Simply it, I observed a number of enhancements in comparison with the VF 8, together with flush door handles, energy shades on the home windows, and a fairly important wheelbase. It’s a low trip, too – good for households, pets, and people with disabilities.

With three extra fashions (VF 9, VF 6 and VF 7) anticipated to succeed in the US market earlier than yr’s finish, VinFast continues to earn the second half of its title. I simply fear that it’s transferring so rapidly that it’s going to have issue going again and making design and efficiency enhancements vital to really stand out in a rising EV market. The VF 8 is a good begin, however VinFast might want to ship extra at a greater value to really collect the piece of the US market its focusing on.

Subsequent, I’m very a lot trying ahead to getting my arms on a Customary VF 8 and am simply as excited concerning the incoming VF 9. I’ll you should definitely report again when these drive inevitably occur.

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