A new city is taking shape in Vietnam, being built by the parent company of an automaker who has expansion plans central North Carolina.
While VinFast has signed a deal to build a $4 billion electric SUV facility in Moncure, it won’t come along with the live, work, play ethos its parent company has adopted in Vietnam.
There, VinGroup, which claims business valued at $39 billion, is trying to transform the country. Leaders describe it as capitalism controlled by communists.
A two-hour flight outside Hanoi lies VinPearl Nha Trang, a seaside mountain resort opened by VinGroup.
The Vin name is everywhere in Vietnam. In addition to VinPearl there is VinHomes, a suburban real estate brand, and of course, VinFast on vehicles. Other VinGroup business ventures include shopping malls, hospitals, schools and a university.
Karen Howard, chairwoman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said the board’s first step in securing the deal was understanding the company they were dealing with.
Chatham County Administrator Dan LaMontagne had questions: How stable are they?
How confident are they that they’re going to go through with this?
“We surely did our share of vetting of the company,” said North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders.
VinGroup chairman Pham Nhat Vuong built his fortune through an instant noodle company in the 90s. He’s now the wealthiest billionaire in Vietnam.
WRAL News got to see a VinGroup “ecosystem” — a 45-story glass office building and rows of apartment towers that rise above former rice fields to create the skyline of VinHomes Ocean Park, just 15 minutes outside the congested center of Hanoi.
VinGroup is capitalizing on a movement of the government to encourage people to move out of the overcrowded old city. So far, 50,000 people have taken advantage of the option, living in apartments with rents half the price of central Hanoi or in luxury villas surrounding man-made rivers, lakes and beaches.
There’s a VinSchool – the largest private education system in Vietnam. Vincom Mall is one of more than 80 across the country.
At VinUniversity, students work toward degrees in a partnership with Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The entire community this was built in the last four years, almost as quickly as VinFast went from a newly-formed company to a world power planning to build electric cars expected to roll off the assembly line in North Carolina in 2024.
The Chatham County development plan is large and ambitious, but don’t expect to see VinHomes or VinPearl resorts. A VinGroup representative told WRAL News that the car company, VinFast, is the only brand they’re taking global.