If the bad reviews weren’t enough, now comes word of VinFast’s recall of all 999 VF8 2023 vehicles sent to the U.S. due to safety concerns. The Vietnamese-based electric vehicle maker was awarded an incentive package by the state and Chatham County to build a $4 billion EV production plant in Moncure.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the recall due to a multifunction head unit display caused by a software error that may cause it to go blank while driving, increasing the chances of a crash. The error was talked about in-depth in many critical reviews in the past month.

“In any other vehicle, this wouldn’t be a big deal,” according to jalopnik.com. “But in a VF8, as with most other EVs, the main display not only shows vital vehicle information, it’s the only display in the whole vehicle.” That includes the speedometer and warning lights.

This isn’t the first recall for the VF8. According to Insideevs.com, 2,781 VF8 SUVs sold in Vietnam were recalled over an issue with the front brakes. The article said that VinFast would also check for the issue in all of the vehicles being sent to the U.S.

The NHTSA said the problem had been documented 18 times but estimates 1,263 VF8s are affected, with 999 potentially dealing with the issue, including 153 fleet vehicles and 111 in customer vehicles. VinFast has possession of the remaining vehicles.

The company is said to be fixing the issue with an over-the-air (OTA) update to fix the glitch, free of charge, and will notify owners through the mail starting May 29.

Reviews of the vehicle sparked words like abysmal, “very, very bad,” “yikes,” “simply unacceptable,” and “return to sender,” including from the highly respected MotorTrend, which said VinFast had the right idea, but the VF8 is nowhere near ready for customer deliveries that are already taking place. 

“Put the VF8 in reverse to back out of a spot, and the whole car shudders violently,” said MotorTrend writer Scott Evans describing the other issues with the vehicle. “The parking brake doesn’t release until you step on the accelerator, and once you do, there’s no hold function, so you’d better keep Creep mode engaged so it’s always sending power to the motors. Disable Creep, and the car will roll away in gear. I nearly rolled backward into another car at an intersection like someone learning to drive stick.”

Evans also said, while adaptive cruise control and lane-centering steering assist work well, there are no apparent safeguards, and can be activated on any road at any time.

Road & Track says, “Over a 90-minute drive, the 5,600-pound SUV never stopped bobbing, swaying, and bucking, producing near-constant head-tossing motions.” The site’s test driver “became car sick for the first time in years” riding in the passenger’s seat.

In addition to the bad reviews, questions are being raised about the company having enough money to operate in the U.S.

According to a December filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), VinFast lost $1.3 billion in 2021 and close to $1.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2022.

The company recently announced that it would merge with special-purpose-acquisition company (SPAC) Black Spade Acquisition Company, allowing it to go public through a stock offering in the U.S. 

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023 and will value VinFast at approximately $27 billion with an equity value of $23 billion. After the transaction, existing shareholders of VinFast will hold approximately 99% shares of the combined company.

Parent company Vingroup, Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate, and founder Pham Nhat Vuong pledged the startup company $2.5 billion in funding last month. 

These issues raise concerns about the plant scheduled to be built at the Triangle Innovation Point in Moncure and slated to open in 2025.

To attract the newly formed company, the state, and Chatham County committed to spending nearly $1.2 billion in incentives over the next 32 years.

Gov. Roy Cooper signs deal committing the state to millions in tax reimbursements for VinFast EV manufacturing plant. March 29, 2022. Source: Research Triangle Regional Partnership

Using the state’s Transformative Job Development and Investment Grant program (JDIG), VinFast could get up to $316.1 million in reimbursement from the state over three decades if the company meets hiring goals. 

The total state appropriation is estimated at $766 million, with Chatham County giving VinFast another $400 million incentive package.

All of these and other issues have led to the question of whether or not the plant will even be built, which would be of small comfort to those losing their homes, businesses, and church to eminent domain in order to build new roads leading to the proposed plant. 

VinFast’s woes were discussed in-depth on Carolina Journal’s The Debrief this week.