TURIN -- Vietnamese carmaker VinFast could add other markets in 2023 to expand its European strategy beyond a planned debut in Germany, France and the Netherlands next year.
The company, which has hired former Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller as its CEO, will debut in Europe next year with two battery-electric crossovers -- the midsize VF e35 and the seven-seat VF e36, both designed by Italy's Pininfarina.
The two models will launch in Vietnam, North America and Europe around mid-2022, after an unveiling planned later this year.
VinFast is a unit of Vingroup JSC, Vietnam's largest conglomerate, and some have called it "Vietnam's answer to Tesla."
VinFast became Vietnam's first fully fledged domestic car manufacturer when its first gasoline-powered models built under its own badge hit the streets in 2019.
VinFast's B2B Sales Vice President Emiel Hendriksen said on Thursday that the automaker is looking at Italy, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Austria for a second step in its European strategy.
"We are considering those countries for 2023," he said during a presentation at Pininfarina headquarters in Turin.
VinFast will initially rely on a direct distribution model in Germany, France and the Netherlands, based on showrooms, but could later consider an agency model for sales in other countries, Hendriksen said.
The company sold about 30,000 vehicles domestically last year and had set a target of selling 15,000 electric vehicles in 2022, although its representatives did not provide detailed forecasts for the European market on Thursday.
Earlier this year sources said parent Vingroup JSC was considering an U.S. initial public offering (IPO) of its car unit that could value VinFast at about $60 billion, though an initial second-quarter deadline for the deal mentioned by one of the sources was delayed.
VinFast Europe CEO Bich Tran said any IPO decision was up to the company's headquarters in Vietnam.
"Our European plans are independent from any IPO. We are carrying on with our plans, everything in Europe is moving as planned," she said.