NHA TRANG, Vietnam -- VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy is used to the skepticism that the Vietnamese EV maker has faced since it said in 2017 it would put new cars on the road in two years.
“We were told by the industry that it was impossible because the standard product development process for any car company from design freeze until the cars roll off the production line was five years. It would be a miracle to do it in four years,” Thuy remembered being told.
Several suppliers also had doubts about the company's aggressive timeline.
"You want this in 18 months? No way," Thuy was told. “Testing alone takes 18 months," Thuy recounted being told during a roundtable with journalists who were on Hon Tre island, off the coast of Nha Trang, Vietnam, to test drive the VF8 last month.
VinFast achieved its goal of getting cars on the road by 2019, assisted by license agreements with BMW for things such as the platform and engine. It was also helped by companies such as ZF Friedrichshafen, Magna International and Pininfarina.
VinFast hoped that its ties to many suppliers in Germany would be beneficial as it looked to take another step in its development by creating its own cars. It used the 2018 Paris show to meet with German supplier executives to see if they would provide parts to the automaker.
“Our goal was to convince them to join us,” Thuy said.
Those meetings didn't go so well.