From TIME, by Charlie Campbell
On northern Vietnam’s Red River Delta, the world’s most ambitious electric-vehicle (EV) upstart occupies a factory complex fringed with mango trees and palms. Outside VinFast’s plant by the port city of Haiphong, fishermen in conical hats still plumb mudflats for grass carp and tilapia; inside, each car negotiates an overhead ergonomic conveyor assembly line measuring 2.5 miles. A gauntlet of 1,250 robot arms twirl like pneumatic ballerinas, adding some 3,000 components and wielding rivet after rivet in a flurry of sparks.
Everything here is top of the line: machinery sourced from Germany, Japan, Sweden. Welding is 98% automated. Capacity is 250,000 cars a year. Impressively, instead of individual assembly lines tailored for each vehicle, the facility can simultaneously assemble multiple models on the same line. Even more impressively, Google Maps shows half of the 877-acre site sits beneath the South China Sea—a quirk because it was reclaimed from the waves and made operational in just 21 months.
VinFast CEO Le Thuy likes to joke that not even the Mountain View, Calif., behemoth can keep up with the EV maker’s lightning pace. “At the start, everybody said that building cars in two years was impossible. Some even called us crazy,” she says. “But we launched three car models in those 21 months.”
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