Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
The groundbreaking on what is being called the “crown jewel of VinFast’s global expansion” occurred Friday morning at the site of the $4 billion EV manufacturing plant in Triangle Innovation Point, in the Chatham County town of Moncure.
Madam Le Thi Thu Thuy, CEO of VinFast Auto; Vietnam ambassador to the U.S. Nguyen Quoc Dzung; NC Gov. Roy Cooper, Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham; Sen. Natalie Murdock, D-Durham (also representing Chatham County); Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; NC Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders; NCDOT Secretary J. Eric Boyette; Chatham County officials; and members of the Merry Oaks Baptist Church, were among those in attendance.
The Chatham County site is the first facility the Vietnamese electric vehicle maker is building outside Vietnam. It is slated to create 7,500 jobs.
“We are proud to create thousands of jobs in North Carolina, but we believe the recognition that we receive here goes beyond the figures and reflects the mutual ambition that we are all pursuing with this new facility and thanks to the support of our parent company, we are well positioned to continue the global expansion with a stronger presence in North America,” said Thuy. “We look forward to a long and prosperous future in this wonderful state and as part of this vibrant local community.”
Thuy also shared that the U.S. secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission cleared the way today for the company’s “business combination,” which brings the EV maker one step closer to listing VinFast in the US. She said the official announcement is coming very soon.
Both Black Spade Acquisition Company and VinFast issued a joint press release later in the day about the merger.
On July 13, shareholders of Black Spade Acquisition Company, the special-purpose-acquisition company (SPAC) that VinFast was supposed to merge with on July 20, decided to extend the company’s lifespan by another year. The vote gave the SPAC until July 20, 2024, to merge with the company.
The merger would allow VinFast to go public through a stock offering in the U.S. It would value the company at approximately $27 billion with an equity value of $23 billion. After the transaction, existing shareholders of VinFast would hold about 99% shares of the combined company.
In connection with the extension, shareholders redeemed approximately $147 million, or over 80% of their shares, leaving $28.56 million in the trust account.
The company has not updated any information on the change on its website.
“The event today is even more meaningful as it takes place when Vietnam and the United States are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their comprehensive partnership,” said Dzung, referring to the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership launched by former Presidents Obama and Sang in 2013. “The event is a vivid testimony to the vigorous growth of the partnership. The success of VinFast is also encouraging other Vietnamese businesses to explore investment opportunities in the United States and in North Carolina.”
Cooper said the state has been working on bringing an automobile assembly plant to North Carolina for decades and credited VinFast for leading an army of clean-energy companies coming to the state.
“It has helped us to set records for job growth and economic expansion over the last few years, and when you talk to CEOs of automakers and truck makers, the private sector is moving away from gas and diesel and into the EV market at breakneck speed,” he said. “The competition is fierce, so it’s important that we have been able to pull together, to harness the economic windfall that is coming, to make sure that that money goes into the pockets of North Carolinians.”
Cooper said they are trying to ensure that the infrastructure will be ready for the EVs once they are on the road by making sure there will be charging stations all over the state.
“We are well on the way to being the greatest state in this country and the most progressive state in the South and showing what you can do when you have great vision, whenever your vision matches not just taking what comes, but knowing what we need to look like,” said Reives.“We have made Chatham County the example for every other county and every other southern state about how to get it done.”
The company also made mention of the donation of three acres of land on their site to Merry Oaks Baptist Church and recognized two members in attendance. The company, which is using eminent domain to complete the project, will displace the 135-year-old church to make way for a new highway that is needed for access in and out of the site.
VinFast first announced plans to build the 1,800-acre site over a year ago. The plant was scheduled to open in 2024 but has been pushed back to a 2025 opening.
Plans include a 2.85 million square foot complex comprising eight buildings, including a press shop, the tallest building at 75.2 feet; and a general assembly building, the largest at 995,900 square feet. Other buildings include a body shop, central energy plant, paint shop, guard house, pump house, and waste building.
VinFast’s factory is designed to reach a capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year in Phase 1. The factory will consist of two main areas: electric vehicle production and assembly. The complex will also house supplementary supplier businesses.
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.
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.
The process has not been without its challenges.
According to Reuters, the company attributed the quarterly revenue decline of almost $84 million to lower selling prices and its phase-out of internal combustion vehicles as it pivoted to become a dedicated EV maker.
The company has been hemorrhaging money for some time now, losing $2.1 billion in 2022 and $1.3 billion the year prior.
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.