How an unknown Vietnamese carmaker is trying to beat Tesla in the U.S.

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An unknown automaker, VinFast, which was founded just a few years ago in Vietnam, is landing in the United States hoping to take on giants like Tesla.

Its founder, Pham Nhat Vuong, made his first fortune in dried ramen noodles and has since become Vietnam’s richest person and owner of Vingroup, the country’s largest conglomerate.

Vingroup, which pulled in about $5.4 billion in sales in 2021, owns a range of businesses including shopping centers, golf courses, housing developments and educational institutions. It also made Vietnam’s first locally produced smartphone.

Pham recently turned his attention to vehicles, which provide a country with benefits that can go beyond the balance sheet.

“His goal is to raise Vietnam economically on the world stage,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions. “Most countries that want to reach that level have an automotive manufacturer.”

Automakers can attract all kinds of related businesses, such as a myriad of suppliers that can translate into many additional jobs and opportunities of all kinds, he added.

Though the company faces many challenges, it is staffed with people from storied brands like BMW and it has supply partnerships with such names as ZF, Gotion, and Pininfarina.

It just needs to get Americans to consider its cars.

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