A Vietnamese company planning an electric vehicle plant in central North Carolina that would employ 7,500 workers met a milestone Friday as its top executive joined Gov. Roy Cooper and others for a ground-breaking ceremony.
VinFast announced last year that it would build its first manufacturing facility outside Vietnam in Chatham County, about 30 miles southwest of Raleigh.
The planned $4 billion investment also would create North Carolina’s first car manufacturing plant and North Carolina's largest-ever, state-backed economic development project as far as job creation, according to news outlets. North Carolina had missed out on car plants over the years to other Southeastern states.
(For) "decades we’ve wanted an automaker in North Carolina, and you know, somebody was looking after us. We were just waiting for that EV market,” Cooper said at Friday’s event.
VinFast, which makes fully electric SUVs, aims to open in 2025 a manufacturing and asssembly plant with initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles annually.
The company has submitted site plans to Chatham County government and received county and environmental permits to begin work.
The state and Chatham County offered VinFast up to $1.25 billion in incentives that can be reached if it meets hiring and investment thresholds. The amount includes $450 million that the General Assembly set aside for infrastructure around the plant.
A car company that was only formed in 2017, VinFast pivoted two years ago toward electric SUVs and targeted foreign markets. The company says it’s so far delivered 350 of its five-seat model to U.S. customers since shipping their first batch late last year.
“Our project represents a significant investment and we’re proud to create thousands of jobs here in North Carolina, but we believe the recognition that we receive here goes beyond the figures and reflects the mutual ambition that we all are pursuing,” VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said at the ceremony.
Earlier this year, the company announced it would delay the production start in Chatham County from 2024 to 2025. A company executive acknowledged that their original timeline had been aggressive but reaffirmed the company’s commitment to build.