Groundbreaking to grounded: The standstill of VinFast’s $4B EV factory plans

By Theresa Opeka

Moncure, NC – Plans to build VinFast’s proposed $4 billion electric vehicle factory in Moncure, Chatham County, remain on hold as the county awaits information on the contractors that will be working on the site.

VinFast EV project construction site. July 2023

“The Chatham County Central Permitting and Inspections Department has finished reviewing the revised plans for both the General Assembly and Body Shop buildings, and the plans have been approved,” said Kara Lusk, public information officer for Chatham County, in an emailed statement to Carolina Journal on Thursday. “However, we still need contractor information, including plumbing and electrical contractors, to release the revised permits. The permits will be issued once we receive the contractors’ information.”

Lusk said the revised plans for the General Assembly building were approved on May 30, and the body shop building plans were approved on June 14. 

Carolina Journal reached out to VinFast Thursday afternoon but did not receive comment before the publication of this article.

In what was being called the “crown jewel of VinFast’s global expansion, the much-celebrated groundbreaking occurred almost a year ago on the site in Triangle Innovation Point.

Officials said that 7,500 jobs would be created and 150,000 vehicles per year could be built in Phase 1 of the project.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said at the July 28 groundbreaking that the state has been working on bringing an automobile assembly plant to North Carolina for decades and credited VinFast for leading an army of clean-energy companies coming to the state.

“It has helped us to set records for job growth and economic expansion over the last few years, and when you talk to CEOs of automakers and truck makers, the private sector is moving away from gas and diesel and into the EV market at breakneck speed,” he said. “The competition is fierce, so it’s important that we have been able to pull together, to harness the economic windfall that is coming, to make sure that that money goes into the pockets of North Carolinians.”

But has the windfall blown away?

The factory was supposed to be cranking out vehicles this year, but the opening was pushed back to 2025, and now that date is uncertain.

The further delay in building the electric vehicle factory has caused many to question whether the factory will ever be built.

In April, 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.

A week later, on April 17, the company submitted revisions for its General Assembly building, with a new size of 810,100 square feet. 

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 against the company on April 12 on behalf of shareholders who allege VinFast’s misleading statements caused them to suffer financially due to securities fraud.

The company has signed agreements with 13 dealers across the US to sell its vehicles, including Leith VinFast, Cary, and Triad VinFast, in Greensboro.

The EV market has taken some blows itself recently, including a decline in purchases and buyer’s remorse among some owners, according to a new report by McKinsey & Company.

It indicated that 46% of EV owners are very likely to switch back to gas-powered vehicles.

Theresa Opeka is the Executive Branch reporter for the Carolina Journal.