After news last week of layoffs and a restructuring of its North American division, VinFast may have cleared a hurdle in its efforts to build a production plant in Chatham County.
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality permit for the Vietnamese electric vehicle maker’s proposed site in Moncure on Feb. 8.
A spokesman from NCDEQ confirmed the issuance of the permit to Carolina Journal in an emailed statement.
A VinFast representative confirmed in an emailed statement to CJ that the issuance of the permit clears the way for Phase 1 of the construction plan for the project to begin.
Phase 1 is expected to produce 150,000 vehicles per year. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, vehicles to be produced at the site include the VinFast VF 9, a seven-passenger all-electric SUV; and the VinFast VF 8, a five-passenger, all-electric mid-size SUV. Phase 2 will focus on battery production.
The company is still awaiting approval for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Construction was supposed to start last year, but the automaker is still waiting for regulatory approval on if the project would permanently impact nearby waterways.
New access roads and two new interchanges off U.S. 1 are also planned in preparation for the site.
The news comes after job cuts and a realignment of its North American operations was reported last week.
In addition to the 80 layoffs, Rodney Haynes, finance chief of VinFast U.S., has left amid a company restructuring. The same reports say there were also layoffs in Canada.
The job cuts are just the latest in a series of bad news for the company.
Late last month, VinFast announced that it was consolidating its U.S. and Canadian strategic business and management operations into a single unit called VinFast North America, headquartered in Los Angeles.
Vinfast told Bloomberg.com that the restructuring aimed to better serve customers in the region and that it has been working with local service providers to improve efficiency. Company officials didn’t respond to messages from Bloomberg.
According to insideevs.com, the first shipment of VF 8 electric cars to the U.S. has been delayed until late February due to software updates.