Vingroup, controlled by billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, broke ground in September for Vinfast, an auto company, in Hai Phong, the port city near Hanoi. It aims to produce up to 500,000 vehicles annually by 2025, with EVs part of the effort. Five factories are being built on 335 hectares.

Pham told Forbes Asia he expects up to $1.5 billion to go into Vinfast, brandishing an agreement from Credit Suisse to arrange an $800 million loan to fund the project. "We have passion to build a Vietnamese car brand that can compete in the world market. We also want to develop an industry that could help other industries in Vietnam," Pham says.

In the first phase of the project, within two years Vinfast could make 100,000 vehicles annually, as well as electric bikes. The EVs would come later.

Vingroup notes that Vietnam still has a low ratio of car ownership, only 23 vehicles per 1,000 people, whereas in Thailand, the ratio is 204 vehicles, and up to 400 vehicles in other developed countries.

Vinfast has already signed several partnership with companies that lead the industry, such as Bosch and Siemens. It hired designers to create car models and put 20 models online for people to vote on--62,000 registered to vote and the two most popular models for sedan and SUV were chosen to be produced for sale within 24 months.

Fanciful? Don't underestimate Pham. When his retail arm, Vincom Retail, debuted on the Vietnam stock exchange, it went up the limit (20%)--with a record trading volume and a market cap of $3.4 billion.

By Lan Anh Nguyen - Forbes Asia - November 28, 2017