VinFast, a Vietnamese automaker, is grappling with doubts over the reliability of its EVs among local consumers. Despite global expansion efforts, scepticism due to product issues, negative press, and a lack of trust present significant challenges in their quest for success.
The company has enormous brand recognition in the country but has found it tough to convince drivers that its EVs are reliable and high-quality.
Ngo Trong Tu, a 31-year-old businessman from Hanoi, considered buying a $35,000 VinFast EV but spent nearly $5,000 more on an imported petrol-powered Honda.
"It's safer than buying a (VinFast) EV," Tu told AFP in Hanoi. "On social media, many people said their VinFast EVs had faults."
"I don't want to spend my money on an imperfect product," he added.
The automaker has also been plagued by complaints about faulty construction and car software problems, compounding the challenge of selling EVs in a country where charging infrastructure is underdeveloped.
In January, the presenter of the "Xe Dien EV" YouTube channel - focusing on EV and battery reviews - said his new VinFast VF8's battery was faulty and he could not open the car with its smart key.
In another video months later, he reported problems with the car's virtual assistant, its accelerator and the air conditioner. In April, state media reported that a VinFast EV suddenly caught fire in Nghe An province.
VinFast said in a statement that authorities had identified the cause of the fire and it was not because of a problem in their vehicle.
Local authorities did not respond to AFP's request for comment on the incident.
In an interview with AFP last month, when asked about the complaints, VinFast's chief executive Le Thi Thu Thuy acknowledged that "there were a lot of doubts".
VinFast is owned by Vietnam's richest person, Phạm Nhat Vuong, who started out selling dried noodles in the Soviet Union.
The tycoon now has opened showrooms in the United States, and outlets in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Despite reporting a net loss of more than $600 million in the third quarter, it continues to expand. Its target markets now include India, Indonesia and the Middle East.
VinFast has said it aims to deliver up to 50,000 cars globally this year. It has sold around 21,000 so far.
"For now, these losses can be carried because Vingroup has deep pockets, but that can't go on forever," said Southeast Asia trade expert James Guild from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Vingroup has pioneered EV infrastructure in Vietnam but one automobile expert in the country, who refused to be named for fear of repercussions from the powerful conglomerate, said that "VinFast has not won our trust".
"It will surely be a long and difficult play for Vingroup," said Tran Lien Phuong Director of AMCO consulting and market research company.
"Anyone joining this game needs time."
To learn more about VinFast, watch the video above