VinFast’s revenue growth is fast, but the electric-vehicle maker’s costs grow faster. 

Vietnam’s Tesla challenger is building a $2 billion manufacturing plant in North Carolina, is poised to break ground on another in India’s Tamil Nadu, and has yet another planned in Indonesia

This week, VinFast reported a net loss in the fourth quarter of $650.1 million, up 3.4% from the previous quarter. For the full year, VinFast’s net loss reached $2.4 billion, up 14.7% from 2022.

On the other hand, revenue grew significantly, jumping 91% to $1.2 billion last year from 2022, and the company plans to deliver 100,000 cars this year, up from nearly 35,000 last year.

VinFast is part of Vingroup, a conglomerate led by Pham Nhat Vuong, Vietnam’s richest man. The carmaker launched in 2017, producing traditional gas-powered vehicles before pivoting to EVs only five years later.

It began selling its VinFast VF8 in the U.S. last March, but critics panned the vehicle, citing inconsistent handling and poor performance. 

Despite that, the company’s shares surged 504% over a six-day period after its IPO in August 2023 on the Nasdaq. VinFast’s market cap briefly exceeded—before a dramatic plunge—that of Ford, Volkswagen, and General Motors combined.

From a peak of about $190 billion, the company’s market cap now stands at just $11.7 billion. 

One issue with VinFast shares has been that Vuong owns nearly all of them, with only about 2% currently available for investor purchase. This means even tiny shifts in volume can trigger large price movements. VinFast said last month it plans to increase the shares available to 10% to 20% by year’s end.

VinFast isn’t alone in a struggling EV market

Of course, VinFast isn’t the only EV maker struggling to turn a profit. Sales growth of EVs, while still strong, is slowing in the U.S. and other markets.

This week, Rivian announced a disappointing fourth quarter and outlook, saying it would cut its salaried workforce by roughly 10%. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his rival should “cut costs massively” to survive, adding: “Their product design is not bad, but the actual hard part of making a car company work is achieving volume production with positive cash flow.”

Even Tesla has warned of “notably lower” sales growth this year after a disappointing fourth quarter, and it was recently surpassed in global EV sales by China’s BYD. Backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, BYD could give VinFast headaches. In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, EVs from BYD are now competing directly against ones from VinFast.

“Chinese car companies are the most competitive car companies in the world,” Musk said in Tesla’s latest earnings call, warning about the Chinese competition. “If there are no trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world.” 

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