Home » This Dirt Cheap Electric SUV Is Coming To America And You Should Be Pumped

This Dirt Cheap Electric SUV Is Coming To America And You Should Be Pumped

Vinfast 1999 Q Yel Ts
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Electric vehicles can make awesome daily drivers. They’re cheap to run, require minimal maintenance, don’t need any warm-up time, and are surprisingly refined. Unfortunately, they’re rather expensive in America, where options below $30,000 are basically nonexistent now that the Chevrolet Bolt is out of production. Are you someone who’s been craving cheap EVs on American soil? Well, pretty soon, you should be able to put your money where your mouth is because the VinFast VF3 is officially coming to America.

Everyone had a hunch that this mini-crossover would make it to America, but it wasn’t confirmed until today, when VinFast made an announcement at CES. While specs are fairly light for now, expect a targeted 125 miles (200 km) of EPA range. That’s not a big figure, but this isn’t a big car. From stem to stern, the VinFast VF3 measures 122.5 inches long, making it two feet, four inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage. We’re talking about a vehicle 2.4 inches longer than the absolutely tiny Scion iQ that Mercedes has been driving around, and that form factor really puts the “aww” in adorable.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Look at it! It’s like a Pomeranian dressed up in a lion costume. It’s saying “I swear I’m a Suzuki Jimny. No really, I am.” You just want to say “That’s the right answer, kid” and give it a crisp fiver to spend on sweets because it’s going to grow up right. Everything else is reasonably small by modern standard too. The VF3 features 16-inch wheels, just one door on each side, and just four lugs per hub. Despite this, it features two rows of seats, making it substantially more useful than, say, a smart fortwo.

Vinfast Vf3 Real Photo 1536x10242  So what could this little EV cost? In an interview with Automotive News last year, VinFast advisor Duke Hale said that American dealers “really liked the VF 3 and the reason is it’s probably sub-$20,000.” Boom. Even though it’s not absolutely confirmation, a targeted price is still a huge deal. Nobody’s ever done a full-speed EV for the American market at that sort of pricing before. If it lands anywhere near Nissan Versa money, it could be a total wildcard even without federal EV incentives.

 

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Vinfast Vf3 12

 

In America, cheap cars are a dying species, and cheap EVs have historically been low-speed vehicles you can’t take on the interstate. If the VinFast VF3 meets its range target and arrives with a price tag of around $20,000, it would be charting unknown territory. However, timing might not be on its side. VinFast claims that U.S. deposits will open later this year, which likely means an arrival date sometime in 2025. If Chevrolet sticks to the 2025 timeline for the next Bolt, keeps pricing under $30,000, and makes it eligible for federal EV incentives, it could drill down into VF3 pricing territory. Of course, those are a lot of “if”s to line up, and if things fall out of whack, it could still render the VF3 in a price bracket of one.

Vinfast Vf3 22

 

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So, will the VinFast VF3 be a great first car for recent grads, or a great second car for couples and small families? Depending on how things go, it may be a viable option. Remember, Hyundai started off selling cheap-as-chips cars and is now an automotive giant on the bleeding edge of EV innovation. If the VF3 is VinFast’s redemption arc, we’ll just have to see how it plays out. Regardless, more cheap cars are always worth getting pumped about, and the VF3 could be exceptionally cheap indeed. Let’s hope it’s better-built than the VF8 City Edition.

(Photo credits: VinFast)

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PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
5 months ago

I really, really hope they can improve their quality program (and not just because they’re supposed to build a factory in my state).

Steven Sims
Steven Sims
5 months ago

Man, I tell you what: If this thing could be flat-towed it’d be great to pull behind my RV!

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
5 months ago

It looks great, but I’m also hoping it comes in 4 wheel drive, and would love to see it lifted on chunky tires.

However, looks mean nothing. Vinfast hasn’t even begun to earn my trust enough to buy any of their products for that much money.

Dan Bee
Dan Bee
5 months ago

I’m a Willys Jeep guy, and I love this (even with VinFast’s recent history). Sign me up!

Klone121
Klone121
5 months ago

One place I think an offroad EV would be great to have would be at the beach. Currently we drive our full size 4×4 SUV out to the beach so that we can drive out on the sand and other offroad areas. To be able to drive something more fuel efficient and comfortable there and have a small EV runabout to replace the golf cart and 4×4 would be awesome. A pure EV wrangler 4xe would be nice or something like this but more off-road oriented. Note- most beach houses already have 220v

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
5 months ago

Cheap cars are good, provided that they’ll hold up to daily use. Flimsy cars from shady as hell companies aren’t. Any company pulling this garbage over deserved criticism ain’t worth my cash, regardless of how cute its static display model is: https://www.thedrive.com/news/vinfast-critic-detained-interrogated-by-vietnam-police-for-facebook-posts-report

I can just imagine climbing up an obstacle, having the damn thing glitch out in the middle and then getting a horse head mailed to my front stoop from the petty CEO when I put the damn thing on blast.

Last edited 5 months ago by Stef Schrader
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago

I want to see some Consumer Reports road test and reliability data come through for at least a couple of Vinfast models before I’d ever pull the trigger on a new one.

While the $20,000 price tag is cheap, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal.

John Patson
John Patson
5 months ago

They keep trying these EV tiny cars and the only people who buy them are little old ladies using them to go to church. This makes the supremely ugly and small Dacia Spring look big — it had a couple of good sales months with the little old ladies, until the subsidies got taken away because importing cars from China cannot be good for the planet.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
5 months ago

This should sell in America about as well as the iQ.

86-GL
86-GL
5 months ago

For the right price, I think this has the potential to do better than the iQ, Mirage, and others, simply for the retro off-roader styling. It looks tough, functional and fun- This aesthetic is all the rage now.

It’s difficult to overstate how deeply undesirable the Scion iQ was to the average North American. It’s styled in such a way to look as diminutive and ungainly as possible, simultaneously projecting an aura of vulnerability AND aggression at the same time. Absolutely horrible.

Look at the success of the Bronco Sport vs its platform mate the Escape. Hell, the Jeep Renegade was popular, and would still be selling like gangbusters if they didn’t cost 40 grand.

I’m not saying this will be the next Civic or anything, but people really like butch SUV/crossovers, (even tiny ones) if you style and price them properly.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
5 months ago
Reply to  86-GL

Both Bronco Sport and Escape are huge and spacious compared to this thing. Between the range, size, and brand, I predict a flop. But, it doesn’t seem like VF is worried about flopping. They’re just shoving the product into the market and going from there. My concern is that it might actually work for them, as a whole, because they have the government backing and seem to be able to afford to take the initial losses without having to answer to investors.

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
5 months ago

something like this would be perfect for my family as a second car. my daily commute is 50 miles round trip, my wife’s volunteer job commute is 70 round trip, my parents are about 60 miles round trip and sister about 90. driving all the way into Boston would be pushing it (62 miles each way)

would be perfect for either of our commutes and general around town driving (although we still require a gas car for frequent 400+ trips and hauling/towing)

Livinglavidadidas
Livinglavidadidas
5 months ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

Is this daily? Those numbers are insane to me

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
5 months ago

My old job was about 17 miles round trip, and after an office move, the new job is only 12 miles. I used to have a 50 mile round trip, and while I absolutely would do it again if needed, I’m not pining to get back to those days!

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
5 months ago

25 miles each way to work for me, parents live about 30, wife volunteers for the red cross at an office about 35 miles away, sister is about 45 (by road, 35 as the crow flies)

my commute used to be about 18 miles each way, but I moved across the border to NH for lower taxes and cheaper house (cut my cost of living about 25% overall)

Livinglavidadidas
Livinglavidadidas
5 months ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

I have about 25 miles each way for work. Love my job but commuting is such a grind. Getting up at the ass crack of dawn to beat traffic, sitting in traffic no matter what on the way back. Thankfully I get WFH flexibility. I hope at least being in NH you get a scenic drive most of the way.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
5 months ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

Doing a 70 mile round trip to volunteer is insane to me.

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
5 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

I tried to get her to volunteer at the local office (3 miles away) but she had an established position and friend group at the other site.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
5 months ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

A few years ago, as the Mustang Mach-E was newly hitting the market, my wife and I had a day-date where we travelled a bit over 100 miles for the day. She’s not into cars, so when I was talking about the possibility of snagging the newest “Mustang,” I got to amaze her (though that amazement was obviously just to pacify me) that we could do that whole route twice (under good conditions) with the range. That was her first understanding of where EVs had gotten to at that time.

This little car would do that jaunt most days, even if we had to stop off a bit for a top-up to be sure it would get us home. Factor in that she works from home, and I’ve got a huge 12 mile round-trip work day, and something like this would be perfect for one of the cars in our garage! (Like you, we road trip too much to move both cars to EVs, at least with the current state of our recharging infrastructure.) Just have to hope VinFast figures out how to make a car before they release this, or that some other brand really wants to compete with them at this sort of level.

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
5 months ago

If VinFast gets their quality control up a little bit this would be an ideal daily for people with 30ish minute commutes. I would be able to afford it while still having my ICE vehicle for vacations and long trips, but my average daily commute is about 60ish miles which gives me range to spare.

I hold reservation until prices are firmed up and there has been some Autopian drive tests and reviews, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

James Mason
James Mason
5 months ago

Remove the back seats and install a cheap generator from Harbor Freight. Then you have a dandy range extender.

RataTejas
RataTejas
5 months ago
Reply to  James Mason

And awesome carbon monoxide poisoning!

James Mason
James Mason
5 months ago
Reply to  RataTejas

Well, you pipe (at least some of) the exhaust to the exterior.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
5 months ago

I saw the badge in the top photo and I was like “oh no”, but man, I want this thing to succeed. I really hope they work the kinks out.

James Mason
James Mason
5 months ago

This thing may fill the gaping hole in my heart that the Elio left. I’d commute to work in it for sure.

Huja Shaw
Huja Shaw
5 months ago

Looks like the Changli’s better-looking younger brother who went to private school. Y’know, the one mom’s always bragging about.

Parsko
Parsko
5 months ago

Everything about this screams yes, but the name.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
5 months ago

Does someone knows what are the rules as dual citizen for importing a car from a country you are also citizen? Lets say “a friend” buy a Suzuki Jimny in Mexico and drive it across the border, does DHS will kick “my friend” back to return it? What if a family member cross the car and “my friend” just keep it?

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

My understanding is the car can be driven across the border and driven all over the country, but it cannot be registered here. And it cannot stay on this side of the border indefinitely, but I don’t know what that timeline is.

Some people have managed to get similar vehicles registered in the US, but you never know when some state official is going to notice and revoke it and crush the car.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

One could buy a rusted out samurai and “replace” most to “all” of the parts and keep the vin and title to the old one and keep it registered. You know like the old Washington’s hatchet joke.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

I like this approach lol I see people doing it with the VW Beetle all the time

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

And old jeeps. Some of which have no original parts as Jeep CJ frames and fiberglass bodies have been readily available for decades.

Livinglavidadidas
Livinglavidadidas
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

That’s a long way of saying VIN fraud. But I for one don’t care too much about enforcing it.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
5 months ago

Oh I know 🙂 If you replace the body as it rots away, then the motor as it dies and then the frame as it rots away. It is the automotive equivalent of Theseus’ paradox,

Last edited 5 months ago by Jim Stock
RataTejas
RataTejas
5 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

It could never be registered in the US, and insurance may be a challenge if you ever crash it.
It’s breaking lots of rules, but hypothetically, I may know someone that drove their diesel jeep across the border when they moved from Canada to the US, and it ran Canadian plates for the better part of 15 years.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
5 months ago

That’s adorable! I could do my little commute in that.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago

I think how well this sells will depend largely on whether VinFast learned their lesson from the first dumpster fire SUV they tried to sell here.

For the love of God VinFast, properly develop the darn thing before you let journalists drive it. Make absolutely certain all the bugs are worked out. Don’t rush it to market, test it thoroughly. You’re already driving on thin ice, the last thing you need is another 4-wheeled punchline to doom your chances in America forever.

I do think if they can learn from their mistakes and make a decent product, this could be quite successful. It’s an affordable small car that looks like an expensive big car if you squint from 40 feet away. Applying big car design to small cars is a formula that has worked here in the past, as long as it is actually well designed. It has potential, but I will need to see reviews for it before I get my hopes up.

86-GL
86-GL
5 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I generally agree with you, but Kia and Hyundai got by selling 4 wheel punchlines for at least a decade, and look at them now. All they had to do was undercut the competition. You don’t have to be the best if you’re the only competitor in your segment.

The issue with the VF8 is the $50,000 price tag- a segment absolutely saturated by quality vehicles.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago
Reply to  86-GL

To be fair, the VF3 will have pretty intimidating competition too, albeit not directly. The Mitsubishi Mirage is a lot more car for the same money, and for a bit less you can even get a Nissan Versa, which looks like any other sedan from a glance. The Chevy Bolt costs a bit more but is good and well established to be good, so could still be more tempting to many. The VF3 is going to have to be legitimately good to compete, it can’t rely on its low price alone.

Spence
Spence
5 months ago

I think you smartasses are either whippersnappers or forgetting how universally beclowned Hyundai was on first arrival in the US. They were the butt of all the jokes. You knew the LAPD was full of liars when cop after cop claimed that Rodney King was doing 110 in his Excel. But the Koreans kept at it, didn’t they? I’m not saying Vinfast will do the same, but they sure could.

As for everyone saying this would be an undrivable dynamic nightmare, it’s the basic size and shape of 60% of the cars in Japan. I’m over here right now, and I have yet to see a single Suzuki Hustler flip into its side like a tipped cow and burst into flames.

Bring on the cheap, cute cars.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
5 months ago
Reply to  Spence

Cars that are cheap when they first hit the US aren’t always winners and they don’t always lead to a manufacturer flourishing.

Did it work for Kia and Hyundai? Yes. Did it work for Toyota and their ilk? Yes. Did it work for Yugo, Mitsubishi, or Suzuki? All varying degrees of No.

Time will tell, I guess.

Ben
Ben
5 months ago

And the common theme for the companies that made it here is their cars got drastically better after those initial laughable attempts. They didn’t just keep selling terrible cars.

Cal67
Cal67
5 months ago

“require minimal maintenance…..and are surprisingly refined.”
Have you read the reviews on other VinFast products? The impression I got is that it would be a stretch to compare them to other EVs.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
5 months ago

No thanks. Interesting comparison to the Mirage. We just got a new 2023 mirage. It was 20k out the door new. It has 4 doors and a real useable back seat. It goes 80 on the highway no problem. It gets just over 40 mpg which puts it’s range well over 300 miles even with the tiny fuel tank, that I can fill anywhere in 2 minutes. Add in the 10 year warranty that was upgraded by the dealer for free to lifetime powertrain. The Mirage is better than this thing in every single way for the same price.

Sbzr
Sbzr
5 months ago

If Suzuki isn’t bringing the Jimny, others might

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