VinFast, the electric SUV maker out of Vietnam with a $4 billion commitment to open an factory in Chatham County, told WRAL News on Friday that plant would not start producing vehicles until at least 2025.
“Because we need more time to complete administrative procedures, VinFast’s EV factory project in North Carolina is expected to start production from 2025,” a spokesman said.
The company has secured a 2,000-acre site in Moncure where it plans to build a manufacturing facility for electric SUVs. Site preparation began in July 2022 and construction is on track for a summer 2023 start.
VinFast’s original plan was to begin delivery of vehicles in the summer of 2024.
“I was told it’s supposed to be manufacturing cars next year,” said Michael Taylor, who lives near the entrance to the VinFast site at Moncure-Flatwood Road. “I was kind of looking forward to it.”
As recently as March 3, Chatham County manager Dan LaMontagne said plans were moving ahead.
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper and Chatham County leaders again said they were confident that the factory would be completed. A county spokesman said he did not expect any change to the scope or vision for the project.
But Taylor is not so sure.
“There’s a good possibility it’s not going to be put in,” he said.
WRAL News asked VinFast for an interview, but the company said no one could be made available until next week.
Once operational, the VinFast factory will be able to produce 150,000 electric vehicles per year, according to Van Anh Nguyen, the CEO of VinFast Manufacturing US, LLC, who is based in North Carolina.
The company expects to staff the factory with more than 7,500 employees.
VinFast is known for working quickly. A factory in the company’s home of Vietnam was built in 21 months.
In North Carolina, VinFast has been working toward obtaining the environmental permits required to build the factory. By early March, the state had issued permits for air quality, erosion and sediment control and construction stormwater. State and federal permits to disturb wetlands and waterways were still under review.
Haw Riverkeeper Emily Sutton is among those with concerns about the environmental impact of the plant, which would build electric crossover vehicles along with the batteries to power them.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering a 284-page permit for what VinFast calls “moderate” impact to the environment. According to the permit application, VinFast’s site will cover more than 33,000 feet of streams and 99 acres of wetlands. The project would permanently impact 3,700 feet of streams and 23 acres of wetlands.