VISIT Vietnam and chances are you’ll be staying in a Vingroup hotel, house or resort, do your shopping at a Vinmart or Vincom retail outlet and the bright people you meet will probably have been educated at a Vinschool and have gone to Vinuni, an upper crust university with ivy league links.

And if your appendix problem flares up, you’d get expert medical help at a Vingroup international hospital.

The Vingroup is a vast and super successful Vietnamese conglomerate, run by a vivacious chairwoman Le Thi Thu Thuy.

This week it showed its latest venture at the Paris Auto Show: a sedan and SUV wearing Vinfast badges.

Yes, the group has entered the world of motor vehicle manufacturing.

“These cars represent our intention for VinFast to be a successful automotive brand both in Vietnam and internationally,” company chair Le Thi Thu Thuy said.

“With our ambitious plans to bring these two vehicles to market in such a short time, it was crucial for us to make a big entrance and an immediate impact, and we certainly did that.”

The stylish vehicles showed the influence of Italy’s Italdesign and Pininfarina, but the mechanicals are of BMW design.

They’ll be marketed respectively as the Vinfast Lux A2.0 and Lux SA2.0.

No shrinking violet, the company used soccer star David Beckham and Miss Vietnam, Trần Tiểu Vy, to unveil the vehicles.

Beckham said that it was “a thrill to celebrate the arrival of these amazing new cars on the global stage.”

Vinfast also broke new ground in inviting some 60,000 Vietnamese citizens to vote on 20 of Italdesign’s sketches and those chosen were then further developed  by Pininfarina.

The engine is a BMW-designed 2.0-litre turbo that Vinfast will build under licence and the vehicles will use an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Both will have rear-wheel drive and the Lux SA2.0 will have all-wheel drive as an option.

Vinfast says the sedan can run to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds and the SUV in 7.3 seconds.

The vehicles will be built at a 355 hectare plant already under construction in Hai Phong, in Vietnam’s north, with local sales starting in late 2019.

The plant is said to be capable of cranking out 250,000 Vinfasts a year, some of them destined for as-yet unidentified export markets.

There are also plans for future electric cars, buses, scooters and commercial vehicles.

VinGroup has assets of more than US $9 billion and has indicated Vinfast will not be lacking in the considerable investment needed to launch a new brand into the automotive world.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.