A Vietnamese vehicle manufacturer which wants to build 250,000 premium electric SUVs per year in the U.S. may be close to finalizing plans to locate a plant in Chatham County’s Triangle Innovation Point megasite.
VinFast, a private automotive startup founded by billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, is closing in on an agreement to invest up to $7 billion in a manufacturing plant at Chatham’s Triangle Innovation Point — one of the county’s two megasites.
If it happens, VinFast would mark one of the largest economic development projects in North Carolina’s history.
As first reported by the Triangle Business Journal, VinFast would produce both electric batteries and vehicles at the site. Unnamed sources told TBJ that VinFast plans to occupy more than 1,000 acres in Triangle Innovation Point.
An official announcement from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office is expected within the week.
The company’s full build-out will eventually bring between 10,000 and 13,000 jobs to the TIP site, the 2,158-acre life science and advanced manufacturing park formerly known as the Moncure Megasite. It’s located in southeast Chatham close to the Lee County line.
The TIP site’s proximity to rail, U.S. 1, the I-540 loop, Research Triangle Park and airports — it’s just six miles from Sanford’s Raleigh Executive Jetport and about 30 minutes from RDU — has made the site, with its 47 building locations and the capacity for more than 12 million square feet of space, an attractive potential new home for business and industry.
Michael Smith, the president of the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, said he could not comment on the announcement.
“We continue to have a lot of activity from large projects actively looking at both of our megasites,” he told the News + Record.
VinFast, the vehicle manufacturing division of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, said in January this year it planned to build electric vehicle plants in Germany and the United States in 2022. The carmaker began operations in 2017 and is now taking pre-orders on all-electric premium SUVs VF 8 and VF 9 in the U.S.
The website InsideEVS reported previously that VinFast’s electric SUVs fall into the mid-size and full-size segments. The smaller of the two, the two-row VF8, will cost around $39,400; the three-row VF9 starts at around $53,700. InsideEVS said pricing for the U.S. market has not been announced.
VinFast has said the maximum range is up to 313 miles for the bigger of the two available batteries it makes. VinFast is the first Vietnamese car maker to expand globally and the first to offer EVs — electric vehicles — and electric scooters.
TBJ said the package offered to VinFast by N.C. is expected to include concessions from the TIP landowners and a significant incentive package from the state
VinFast is an abbreviation of five Vietnamese words — Vietnam, style, safety, creativeness and pioneer. Bloomberg earlier reported that VinFast, a private LLC, plans to go public in the U.S. in the second half of this year.
Back in January, multiple media outlets, including the News + Record, Triangle Business Journal, Business North Carolina and the Raleigh News & Observer, cited heavy interest in the TIP site location by computer chip manufacturer which eventually chose to locate outside N.C.
"Project Autumn," as it was known locally, would’ve helped fill the gap in a global chip shortage, which has created supply-chain disruption and adversely impacted the U.S. economy.
This is a developing story and will be updated.