Vietnam EV Industry: Understanding the B2B Opportunity for Foreign Firms
The nascent Vietnam electric vehicle (EV) industry is entering a boom phase and there are a myriad of business-to-business (B2B) opportunities. Here’s what foreign firms and investors need to know about the changing nature of Vietnam’s automotive industry and market potential.
In the midst of a remarkable global transformation that is reshaping the future of transportation, the electric vehicle (EV) market stands at the forefront of innovation in many countries around the world and Vietnam is no exception.
This is not just a consumer-led phenomenon. As the EV industry gains momentum, a surge in business-to-business (B2B) cooperation has ignited, whereby firms can provide parts and components or ancillary services unlocking a plethora of lucrative opportunities. From the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure to the dynamic realm of battery manufacturing and supply, a world of possibilities awaits.
But in Vietnam, the industry is still relatively undeveloped. In this light, companies in the market may benefit from a first-mover advantage; however, this could also be a double-edged sword in that they may need to invest in developing the market as a whole.
With this in mind, we provide a short overview of the B2B opportunities in the electric vehicle industry in Vietnam.
Challenges entering the Vietnamese EV market
The EV market in Vietnam is confronted with many infrastructure-related obstacles. With the increasing demand for EVs, the establishment of a robust charging network becomes imperative to support widespread adoption. However, Vietnam currently faces limitations due to a scarcity of charging stations, insufficient power grid capacity, and the absence of standardized charging protocols. Consequently, these factors can pose operational difficulties for businesses.
“There are also challenges to meeting the EV industry’s goal of transforming vehicles, such as the transportation infrastructure system not yet meeting the strong transition to electricity,” Deputy Minister of Transportation, Le Anh Tuan, told a workshop late last year.
This indicates that the government is aware of the structural challenges and will likely support private sector-led initiatives advancing key enabling infrastructure.
Competition from established players
A potential challenge for foreign stakeholders adopting a wait-and-see approach may stem from intense competition in the Vietnam market. As the potential of Vietnam’s EV industry unfolds, a surge of foreign enterprises entering this burgeoning sector may trigger fierce competition.
B2B businesses in Vietnam’s EV market not only face competition from established players domestically, like VinFast, but also from other countries. These players often have extensive experience, resources, and established supply chains. Huge players in this market, such as Tesla (the USA), BYD (China), and Volkswagen (Germany), all have electric vehicles that could be a challenge to compete with.
Policy and regulatory environment
The EV market, just like other industries, is influenced by government policies and regulations. Even after a partnership has been reached between two companies, they still may face challenges related to navigating complex and ever-evolving regulations, obtaining the necessary permits, and complying with quality standards.
Recently, the Vietnamese government issued a decree governing the inspection and certification of technical security and protection of the environment for imported automobiles and parts. This adds an additional layer of regulations for importers. The decree will go into effect on car parts from October 1, 2023, and will then apply to fully-made automobiles from the start of August 2025.
Policies like this can have a significant impact on the viability and profitability of businesses operating in the EV sector. Furthermore, changes in government policies, incentives, and subsidies can create uncertainty and affect long-term business planning.
Talent acquisition, skills gap
For successful B2B deals, human resources play a very important role. As the industry grows, there is a demand for skilled professionals with expertise in EV technology. However, finding skilled professionals could be a challenge for businesses in Vietnam as there is still a lack of educational institutions that train specifically for this industry. Thus, companies may face hurdles in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological advancements requires continuous training and upskilling of existing employees, which can further exacerbate the problem.
Despite the existing challenges in the domestic EV market, it is evident that the production of EVs will continue to grow as concerns surrounding air pollution, carbon emissions, and depleting energy resources mount.
Within the Vietnamese context, an intriguing surge in customer interest in EV adoption has become increasingly apparent. The number of EVs in Vietnam is expected to reach 1 million units by 2028 and 3.5 million units by 2040, according to Statista. This higher demand is anticipated to fuel other supporting industries, such as infrastructure, charging solutions, and ancillary EV services. As such, the nascent EV industry in Vietnam presents a fertile ground for B2B collaboration with opportunities to forge strategic alliances and capitalize on this emerging market landscape.
Components manufacturing and technology
In Vietnam, there are significant B2B opportunities in the realm of vehicle components and technologies. The integration of EVs into the automobile market has generated demand for various components like tires and spare parts as well as demand for high-tech machinery.
One notable example in this domain is Sweden’s ABB, which provisioned over 1,000 robots to VinFast’s factory in Hai Phong. With these robots, VinFast aims to boost the production of electric motorcycles and cars. This highlights the potential for international companies to contribute their expertise in robotics and automation to support local manufacturing.
Another significant development is Foxconn’s investment in Quang Ninh province, where the company has been approved by the Vietnamese government to invest US$246 million in two projects. A substantial portion of this investment, amounting to US$200 million, will be allocated toward the establishment of a factory dedicated to producing EV chargers and components. This is expected to start operation in January 2025.
EV charging and infrastructure development
The rapid growth of the EV market requires significant investment, especially in infrastructure development. This includes building charging stations and upgrading power grids. In this area, Vietnam is ripe with opportunities for collaboration.
For example, an agreement signed between Petrolimex Group and VinFast in June 2022 will see VinFast charging stations installed at Petrolimex’s extensive network of petrol stations. VinFast will also provide battery rental services and facilitate the creation of maintenance stations dedicated to the repair of EVs.
The integration of charging stations within existing gas stations not only makes it more convenient for EV owners to charge their vehicles but also makes use of existing infrastructure bringing benefits to both emerging and traditional businesses in the automotive sector.
Understanding the market for EV services
The EV industry offers a range of services beyond manufacturing, including EV leasing and mobility solutions.
VinFast and Taxi Services
VinFast has taken to leasing their electric cars to transportation service companies. Notably, their subsidiary, Green Sustainable Mobility (GSM), has become one of the first companies in Vietnam to offer this service.
Lado Taxi has also integrated nearly 1,000 VinFast EVs, encompassing models, such as VF e34s and VF 5sPlus, for their electric taxi services in provinces like Lam Dong and Binh Duong.
In another significant development, Sun Taxi has signed a contract with VinFast to procure 3,000 VF 5s Plus cars, representing the largest fleet acquisition in Vietnam to date, according to the Vingroup Financial Report H1 2023.
Selex Motors and Lazada Logistics
In May of this year, Selex Motors and Lazada Logistics signed an agreement to use Selex Camel electric scooters in their operations in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. As part of the agreement, Selex Motors handed over the electric scooters to Lazada Logistics in December 2022, with plans to operate at least 100 such vehicles in 2023.
Dat Bike and Gojek
Dat Bike, a Vietnamese electric scooter company, took a significant stride in the transportation industry when it entered into a strategic collaboration with Gojek in May of this year. This collaboration is aimed at revolutionizing the transportation services offered by Gojek, including GoRide for passenger transportation, GoFood for food delivery, and GoSend for general delivery purposes. To do this it will utilize Dat Bike’s cutting-edge electric motorbike, the Dat Bike Weaver++, in its operations.
VinFast, Be Group, and VPBank
VinFast has invested directly in Be Group a technology car company, and signed a memorandum of understanding to put VinFast electric motorbikes into operation. Furthermore, with the support of Vietnam Prosperity Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VPBank), Be Group drivers are granted exclusive benefits when it comes to renting or owning a VinFast electric car.
As the market expands and companies solidify their market position, they require a robust network of suppliers, service providers, and partners to sustain their operations to meet the growing demand. This opens up avenues for B2B collaborations and partnerships with new entrants who can offer innovative solutions, specialized components, or complementary services.
Although there are still limitations and difficulties for businesses in this emerging industry, there is no denying the future potential as EV adoption aligns with climate action directives and consumer sensitivities.
Through strategic supply chain partnerships and provision of after sales services, B2B businesses can leverage each other’s strengths, foster innovation, and contribute to the overall growth and development of Vietnam’s EV industry.
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