VinFast's Electric Scooters Are Enabling A Transportation Revolution In Southeast Asia - CleanTechnica

2022-08-05 07:28:33 By : Ms. Wei Huang

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In addition to the vehicle VinFast produces 4 different models of electric scooters to meet the growing needs of Vietnam’s population, ranging from smaller, more affordable Feliz S scooter up to the larger, more powerful Theon S. Scooters are the backbone of transportation in Vietnam with the majority of citizens owning one or two scooters.

The streets of every city we visited were absolutely buzzing with scooters. It was a common sight in Hanoi to see two, three or even four people from a family riding on a single scooter. This is acceptable locally with up to two adults and children up to age 7, though locals tell us this is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast law. In addition to miniature humans, it was common to see scooters loaded up with groceries, goods for their shop, or supplies for a home repair project. They’re the ultimate utility vehicles in southeast Asia and VinFast is helping those very same scooter riders go electric.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Disclaimer: VinFast paid for the author’s travel and accommodations to attend this tour.

VinFast hosted us in Vietnam where we were able to not only see their electric scooter production lines, we were able to ride all four of their electric scooters on a short loop course. Let’s dive right into the manufacturing process, where we saw electric scooters being assembled at VinFast’s factory in Hai Phong, Vietnam.

While at the factory, we had the opportunity to dive deep into VinFast’s electric scooter General Assembly line and pick through every nook and cranny. As with most General Assembly lines, it is a fairly manual process and it was exciting for us to see a high percentage of the workers on the line were female. Manufacturing just about anywhere around the world, across industries, is traditionally male-dominated and in my informal survey, VinFast’s lines had the highest percentage of women of any factory I’ve been to.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The assembly process starts with a naked frame, with more parts being bolted on as the station moves towards the end of the line. Most production lines have different stations for each component, with technicians specializing in a single task. VinFast took a different approach, staging all the parts needed for a single build at the front of the line, with a team of workers assembling the scooter from start to finish as it moves towards the end of the line.

Forks, Suspension, motors, wiring, and batteries are added as the scooters move down the line on the moving conveyor floor. The battery packs for the scooters are also assembled locally in VinFast’s Battery Assembly factory and brought over to the scooter General Assembly line for installation.

A rack of VinFast eScooter battery packs awaiting installation into a new electric scooter. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

None of the components for eScooters are manufactured in the General Assembly area but instead sourced externally and brought into the area as needed on racks to expedite the overall flow of the assembly line. VinFast makes use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to move parts around and it was cool seeing the little guys tugging massive trains of parts around the area. AGVs have been used in manufacturing for decades, but it’s just one more way to automate the process and keep costs down.

An orange AGV tugging around carts full of the parts needed to assemble a new eScooter. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

At the end of the production line, quality checks are performed to ensure everything was put on correctly. This is both for form and function, with checks to confirm the completed scooter functions properly and has all its panels lined up properly.

Rows of finished electric scooters are lined up adjacent to the scooter general assembly line. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

VinFast’s compact electric scooters were being assembled alongside VinFast’s electric vehicle charging equipment. In parallel to the scooter assembly line, they have 11 kW, 22 kW and dual nozzle 60kW CCS2 DC fast charging units being put together. The scooters themselves use small pedestal chargers which we saw installed in the wild at a local VinCom Mega Mall installed alongside 22 kW EV chargers. Around front of the mall, a handful of VinFast’s DC fast chargers were installed for drivers needing to top up their EV tank faster.

VinFast EV chargers being assembled and made ready for shipment. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The key focus for VinFast is the path to bringing electric vehicles to market. In the United States and Europe, we tend focus on the four-wheeled variety but in Southeast Asia, two-wheeled vehicles like scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles reign supreme. In that regard, VinFast is cranking out the bikes, with row after row of the staging area near the scooter General Assembly line full of the compact electric vehicles.

After touring VinFast’s electric scooter assembly factory in Hai Phong, Vietnam, I was excited to spend some time riding them. As anyone who’s visited a country with high scooter and motorcycle adoption knows, two wheelers fill in the cracks between cars, buses, and trucks not only with their physical presence but also the higher pitched noise of small petrol engines. Transitioning these vehicles to fully electric variants like the ones VinFast is churning out at its factory will help transform cities in the coming years by eliminating the noise associated with this popular form of transportation, in addition to the emissions.

The ride and drive setup. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

At the VinPearl resort in Nha Trang, VinFast hosted a ride-and-drive of their electric scooters, allowing members of the press, investors, influencers, and early adopters to test out four of their eScooters on a short circular track. While short, the track allowed for decent acceleration and turning, giving me an overall gauge of each of the vehicle’s capability in a matter of minutes.

The thing that stood out to me first was the lack of noise. With five or six eScooters buzzing around the track at a given time, only the slight whir of rapid acceleration even stood out. The rest of the experience was just watching the eScooters silently glide around the track, with the occasional whir of someone’s rapid acceleration. If anything, it was the smiles that pierced the silence, telling everyone around how much fun the scooters were. I mean, just check out these pics. It was like the people riding the scooters were actually having fun.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

And it wasn’t just everyone else having fun. I hopped onto each of VinFast’s four models and found them to be a blast. Silent, yes. But they also had plenty of kick to make riding them comfortable. At just over 200 lbs, I put a significant burden on any vehicle I sit on especially the two-wheeled variety.

I was impressed that with Vinfast electric scooters, I didn’t even notice my weight, though the scooter likely did. It had plenty of power to keep me moving at whatever speed I wanted to, as quickly as I was interested in accelerating. They weren’t sluggish or slow in any way, with the top of the line Theon S having the most punch, with its 7.5 kW motor. The rest of the scooters are packing 3 kW motors which were still more than enough for urban commuting.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The top of the line Theon has a top speed of 99 kph / 62 mph meaning it could likely stand up to short stints on the freeway. Stepping down from there, the Vento S’s 5.2 kW motor delivers a top speed of 89 kph / 55 mph. The Klara S and Feliz S share the same 3 kW power rating on their motors for a top speed of 78 kph / 48 mph. It’s great to have the options, especially for cultures in Asia and Europe where scooters are already fully integrated and safe to ride with existing infrastructure. Here in the US, it’s a bit more of an uphill climb in most areas. I’ve included the full spec sheets for all four models at the bottom of this article for reference.

Scooters are already foundational to the transportation fabric in Southeast Asia but VinFast also has plans to bring the two-wheeled electric vehicle revolution to the United States. The company recently announced it would be building its electric scooters at its new factory in Chatham County, North Carolina alongside its VF 8 and VF 9 electric vehicles.

That’s great news for two-wheeled vehicle enthusiasts and anyone else looking for more options to electrify their commute.

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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