VinFast changes gears again over size of assembly building

In what might be called a case of whiplash, Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast has once again changed plans for its $4 billion electric vehicle factory in Moncure, Chatham County.

Last week, Carolina Journal reported that in December 2023, VinFast submitted revised plans that changed the footprint and square footage of its General Assembly building to 782,255 square feet, a scaled-down version of the 995,500-square-foot building that was originally proposed.

Now comes word that on April 17, the company submitted revisions for their General Assembly building, with a new size of 810,100 square feet. 

Kara Lusk, public information officer for Chatham County, also confirmed to CJ in an emailed statement on Monday that the county has up to 30 days to review the plans, and no other revisions have been received for other buildings.

In July, the county’s central permitting and inspections department issued a foundation permit for the 995,500-square-foot building. The company broke ground the same month on the building, with the North Carolina operation being viewed at the time as the “crown jewel of VinFast’s global expansion.” Officials said that 7,500 jobs would be created and 150,000 vehicles per year could be built in Phase 1 of the project.

Lusk told CJ last week that the company didn’t make the county aware of any changes in their capital investment or job creation numbers.

CJ reached out to VinFast on April 17 for comment but did not hear back prior to publication of the article. 

Ms. Van Anh Nguyen, CEO of VinFast US Manufacturing, emailed CJ Friday afternoon about why they changed the size of the assembly plant structure.

“To meet the main technology contractor’s design requirements more precisely, we are adjusting the dimensions of the General Assembly workshop,” she said. “By doing so, we can optimize the construction and operational costs of the factory once operational. The overall size of the factory remains unchanged.”

The county also had questions they submitted to the company in December. Nguyen didn’t address that but said VinFast submitted detailed factory design documents to Chatham County earlier this month and hopes to receive approval soon.

“We require significant time to collaborate with the design team and the technology contractor to finalize the technical design of the workshops,” she said. “The construction of the workshops must adhere to the equipment/technology contractor’s procedures.”

Lusk said they are currently reviewing a permit application for the 850,564-square-foot body shop building and a separate trade permit application for onsite water and sewer.

The permitting and inspections department, she said, has issued several permits for retaining walls, which are under construction, and also issued trade permits for generators. Additionally, a related permit has been issued for a Sanford pump station that will serve VinFast. 

The company first announced plans in February 2022 to build on the 1,800-acre site. The plant was scheduled to open in 2024, but was delayed until 2025. The current delay in construction may push back the opening even further.

In addition to the assembly plant and body shop, a press shop, central energy plant, paint shop, guard house, pump house, and waste building are also scheduled to be built.

The company has lost billions of dollars since 2021, despite such actions as a company merger with Black Spade Acquisition Company in August, which helped value the company at approximately $27 billion with an equity value of $23 billion.

The merger may have been more trouble than it was worth, however, as two law firms jointly filed a federal securities class action lawsuit on April 12 against the company on behalf of shareholders who allegedly say VinFast’s misleading statements caused them to suffer financially due to securities fraud.

The statements, according to the lawsuit filed by New York City firms Pomerantz LLP and Bronstein and Gewirtz & Grossman LLC, include the amount of funding needed to expand the company’s operations and an overestimation of how many vehicles would be delivered by the company last year. 

Originally, VinFast offered a small percentage of its tradeable shares, which drove the price to nearly $100 a share in late August. But, the artificially high rate balloon was eventually deflated, as most SPAC mergers fail.

According to the Yale Journal on Regulation, special purpose acquisition companies, or “SPACs,” have delivered poor post-merger returns to shareholders for many years.

On Wednesday, a VinFast share could be bought for $2.62, its lowest valuation since trading began last August. 

Under federal law, VinFast shareholders have 90 days to make their claim as a lead plaintiff.

The post VinFast changes gears again over size of assembly building first appeared on Carolina Journal.


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