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Vietnam's Vinfast launches with a pair of rebodied BMWs

Viknesh Vijayenthiran

Vietnam is getting into the vehicle manufacturing business with its own brand. Called Vinfast, the first two products from the newly established car company have been confirmed as a mid-size sedan and SUV. They will be presented to the public for the first time during October's 2018 Paris auto show.

But rather than develop its own models, Vinfast has chosen to rebody existing cars for its first two products, in this case the previous-generation BMW 5-Series and X5. Italian design firms Italdesign and Pininfarina were hired to devise the new look for the vehicles, working closely with Vinfast design boss David Lyon. He's a former General Motors staffer, as is Vinfast CEO Jim DeLuca.

In an interesting move, Vinfast gave the people of Vietnam the opportunity to determine the styling direction at the very start of the design process. More than 62,000 people voted when presented with 20 design sketches. Starting with Italdesign’s winning concepts, the cars’ designs have since been developed and completed by Pininfarina.

Vinfast is yet to provide specifications for its sedan and SUV but we know the company is licensed to manufacture a BMW 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, so this will likely be the powertrain at launch.

2019 Vinfast SUV

Production of Vinfast cars will take place at a plant under construction in Hai Phong, in Vietnam's north. Vinfast will start local sales of the sedan and SUV in September 2019 and plans to follow up the cars with additional models, including commercial vehicles. The brand says it will eventually start exports but hasn't mentioned any markets.

Vinfast is a subsidiary of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, which specializes in construction and real estate development but is also involved in agriculture, healthcare, retail, tourism and numerous other sectors. Now we can add vehicle manufacturing to the list.

The Paris auto show starts October 4. To learn of some of the other vehicles appearing, head to our dedicated hub.