Vietnamese automaker VinFast has announced the appointment of its founder and primary financial supporter, Pham Nhat Vuong, as the new chief executive officer. Vuong, aged 55, replaces Le Thi Thu Thuy, who held the position since late 2021.
Thuy will transition to the role of chairwoman, focusing on external stakeholder engagement. As the founder and chairman of Vingroup, VinFast's parent company and Vietnam's largest conglomerate, Vuong will now directly oversee the electric vehicle (EV) maker's global operations, including production, sales, and marketing.
This leadership change marks VinFast's fourth CEO, with previous executives including James Deluca, a General Motors veteran, and Michael Lohscheller, who had experience at Opel and Volkswagen. Concurrently, the company appointed Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, responsible for financial matters at Vingroup's EV battery arm, as the new chief financial officer, succeeding David Mansfield, who served in the role from 2022.
VinFast, founded in 2017 and commencing EV manufacturing in 2021, has received consistent financial backing from Vuong, Vietnam's wealthiest individual according to Forbes. In April 2023, Vuong provided VinFast with a $1 billion grant. Despite being yet to achieve profitability, the automaker has ambitious plans for global expansion and sales through dealerships.
The company faces challenges in a competitive market where car prices, influenced by market leader Tesla and various Chinese manufacturers like BYD, are under pressure. VinFast closed the third quarter of 2023 with a net loss of $623 million. In June 2023, Vuong expressed optimism, anticipating VinFast to break even by the end of 2024.
Vuong's journey to success began in Ukraine in the 1990s, where he built his initial fortune by manufacturing instant noodles. After selling his firm to Nestle, he returned to Vietnam in 2002 and established Vingroup, focusing on diverse sectors, including real estate, resorts, education, healthcare, shopping malls, and more recently, electric vehicles.