Although there are still several questions around VinFast to which we still have no answer, the Vietnamese manufacturer continues to advance on our territory. Indeed, we learn a little more about its very controversial battery rental service. VinFast announces that, by next year, consumers will be able to choose between two batteries of different capacities and rent them through fixed or variable subscription services.
When it goes on sale in the fall, the electric VF 8 SUV will be powered by a battery with a capacity of 82 kilowatt hours. Its autonomy will vary according to the model chosen. For example, a VF 8 Eco will offer a range of 420 kilometres, while a Plus can travel up to 400 kilometres.
These numbers are based on optimistic WLTP data. We are still awaiting EPA assessments on this. It is also important to point out that these are figures lower than what VinFast promised us during our first contact with the VF 8, last April, namely 460 and 510 kilometers.
Two battery variants
A second battery variant will be added to the range in 2023. It will offer a range of between 4447 and 471 kilometres, again depending on WLTP evaluations. VinFast, however, did not disclose its capacity.
Then will come its big brother, the VF 9, which will work with a similar model. The Eco model will be able to travel 438 kilometers with the variant 1 battery and 594 kilometers with the variant 2. The VF 9 Plus, on the other hand, will offer ranges between 423 and 580 kilometers (WLTP).
As for pricing, a VF 8 Eco will retail for $50,850 with the Variant 1 battery, then $51,250 with the Variant 2 battery. A Plus will retail for $59,350 in Variant 1 and $59,750 in Variant 2 , before freight and PDI.
As for the VF 9, we can expect a price of $69,150 for an Eco in variant 1 and $69,750 in variant 2. The VF 9 Plus would retail for $75,650 in variant 1 and $76,250 in variant 2.
Fixed or variable rental plans
In our territory, VinFast will only work through a battery subscription service. Consumers will be able to choose between a fixed or variable rental plan. In the case of a VF 8, a fixed plan grants unlimited battery usage at the price of $139 per month, while on the side of the VF 9, the monthly payment is fixed at $199.
The variable plan imposes a monthly usage limit of 500 kilometers at a cost of $39 per month for a VF 8, and $59 for a VF 9. Consumers must then pay an additional $0.09 per additional kilometer for the VF 8, and $0.11 for a VF 9.
Additionally, VinFast claims that its batteries will be guaranteed for life. The manufacturer undertakes to replace the battery in the event that its degradation exceeds 70%. It adds that it will establish a robust battery recycling system, and that this business model will extend until the end of 2023.
As of 2024, VinFast claims that 50% of its vehicles will be sold with the battery rental service, and the other 50% will operate with a traditional business model, i.e. with battery included.
VinFast’s strategy is strange. It is understood that the rental of the battery will grant the consumer a battery guaranteed for life and a replacement service in the event of a degradation, but certain manufacturers already offer this kind of service in their guarantee programs. Some of them even protect the battery for up to 10 years or 200,000 kilometers.
Is it justified to impose on the consumer an additional monthly payment under the pretext that he will always have a new battery in a world where, firstly, the batteries have a much longer lifespan than we had imagined and, secondly, the consumers typically change cars within the first 10 years? I do not believe.
I would add that VinFast’s prices are not necessarily low compared to the competition. This is another anomaly considering the novelty for this manufacturer which has yet to make itself known to us. Moreover, this monthly mileage limit does not make sense, especially considering that no other vehicle on the market imposes such restrictions on consumers. To be continued.