Aussie engineers kickstarting Vietnam's car market

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

More than a dozen Australian engineers who formerly worked on Fords, Holdens and Toyotas have helped kickstart Vietnam’s automotive industry with a new brand of car, VinFast.

While automotive manufacturing has been slowing in this country, a number of engineers and designers have relocated to South-East Asia. And VinFast vice president, planning and program management, Roy Flecknell, said the Australian engineers have brought “massive talent and experience” to the business.

Flecknell emphasised the flexibility and broad knowledge of the Australian engineers had been “instrumental” in the first two years of business, adding that they were learning news ways of doing things.

“When you work for Toyota, Ford or GM, it’s very global, very regimented and very rigid,” he told drive.com.au. “[Here] they are able to come and use all their experience and think about ways of doing things differently.

"It’s amazing how creative you can be and do things differently and still create good quality products.”

The fledgling car manufacturer is the first for Vietnam – and the only – but it’s already raring to go. General Motors sold its Hanoi plant to VinFast earlier this year and the Vietnamese business has an additional plant in Hai Phong in the works.

VinFast has just unveiled its first two display models at the recent 2018 Paris Motor Show ahead of sales planned for Vietnam in a year’s time.

In what has been an ambitious one-year gestation, VinFast produced the Lux A2.0 sedan and the Lux SA2.0 SUV. These are the first of many cars planned for overseas markets, which potentially include Australia.

According to VinFast, the cars incorporate Italian design and German engineering - using a BMW platform and engines – and the two models will go head-to-head with Toyota’s Camry and Fortuner in the Vietnamese market.

As a start-up, Flecknell said VinFast is “exciting to be involved in, and it’s challenging”. But, unlike many businesses just starting out, it’s not short of a dollar. Vietnam’s multi-billion dollar investor Vingroup, which is involved in major projects like shopping centres and hospitals, is footing the bill.

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