VinFast part ways with four senior executives as it prepares for expansion

A VinFast VF8 electric SUV model is displayed at a store the Vietnamese automaker plans to open in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson

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June 16 (Reuters) – Four senior VinFast executives in Vietnam have left the electric vehicle startup as it prepares to launch its first model overseas and roll out a network of showrooms in the United States and in Europe, the company said.

The recent string of departures comes as VinFast prepares to begin construction of a $4 billion factory in North Carolina, open its first showrooms in California, head towards a possible initial public offering of actions and seek funding from the US government.

The executives who have left are Emmanuel Bret, deputy general manager of global sales; Franck Euvrard, Chief Operating Officer for Product Development; Hong Bae, deputy general manager for automotive technology development and Bruno Tavares, former chief financial officer, the company said.

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A spokesperson for VinFast, a unit of the Vingroup conglomerate (VIC.HM), said it had “terminated employment contracts” with the four with their consent. He said two of the leaders, whom he did not name, resigned for personal reasons.

“All have agreed to end their contracts in legal terms,” ​​the company said in a statement to Reuters. “Adjusting human resources is a common business practice around the world. VinFast is no exception.”

Bret, a former BMW executive, had joined VinFast in January in Hanoi and was responsible for rolling out the company’s planned overseas sales network. He was among the executives who represented VinFast at the New York auto show in April, when it showed off prototypes of its VF8 and VF9 electric SUVs.

Euvrard, who joined VinFast in January from Tata Technologies, had been tasked with developing VinFast’s line of all-electric products.

Hong Bae, a Samsung Electronics, Faraday Future and Fisker veteran, joined VinFast last July.

None of the executives could be reached for comment.

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A memo from the office of VinFast chief executive Le Thi Thu Thuy, seen by Reuters, says all executives were fired for various reasons related to the quality of their work.

A company spokesperson said the memo was not properly reviewed and was removed.

Huy Chieu, a former GM engineer who joined VinFast in November last year, was promoted to lead its electric vehicle development efforts after leading work on the VF8, according to a separate memo seen by Reuters. The same memo stated that the company had chief engineers for two planned future models that were not prototyped, the VF5 and VF6.

VinFast has confirmed that the appointments detailed in the note have taken place. Chieu could not be reached for comment.

Thuy took over as CEO of VinFast in December following the resignation of German executive Michael Lohscheller, who left his role as CEO of the Stellantis Opel brand to lead VinFast. Lohscheller resigned for personal reasons, the company said.

VinFast has had three CEOs since its inception in 2017.

VinFast, which began production in 2019, is betting big on the U.S. market, where it hopes to compete with traditional automakers and startups with two all-electric SUVs and a battery rental model that will lower the purchase price.

VinFast has promised to create 7,500 jobs at its planned factory in North Carolina, where it will build the battery-powered VF8 and the larger, more expensive VF9.

It plans to start exporting the two electric vehicles to the United States later this year from its existing factory in Vietnam.

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Written by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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