VinFast’s Innovative Battery Subscription Program Comes to Canada
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VinFast’s Innovative Battery Subscription Program Comes to Canada

While electric cars have been around for a while now, with most of the mainstream manufacturers producing at least one, if not several models, for many consumers they’re still unknown territory. Purchasing a vehicle is one of the biggest financial decisions we can make , and it can be intimidating to invest that much money into technology we don’t yet trust.

While hybrid vehicles have become commonplace, and have proven reliable to the extent that taxi fleets have put thousands of trouble-free miles upon them, the public is still skeptical about battery technology. And not without some reason; there have been several reports of Canadian owners facing $20,000 plus in replacement costs when their vehicle’s battery failed. 

VinFast Manufacturing Facility, Haiphong, Vietnam | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Although those cases primarily concerned older vehicles, and battery technology has improved immensely in the last decade, there’s still a large number of consumers who won’t consider an electric vehicle based on their mistrust of battery reliability.

Electric vehicle batteries do have a shelf life

EV technology is constantly evolving and today’s batteries have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, or from 170,000 to 320,000 km, then often go on to a second life in solar power systems, and manufacturing.

For those buyers who still don’t trust battery technology, and want the reassurance that they will be covered in the extent of failure – in some cases they’ll actually be able to lease the battery. While the battery subscription industry is brand new, it’s expected to exceed US$400 million by 2028. 

Leasing the battery not only reduces the upfront cost of purchasing a new electric vehicle, it also gives the buyer peace of mind knowing that a failing battery will be replaced, free of charge.

VinFast Battery Subscription Program: how it works & cost expectations

One of the first automakers to offer consumers this option is VinFast, based out of Vietnam. Backed by the $39 billion VinGroup conglomerate, VinFast is a relatively new company that will focus solely on the production of electric vehicles. 

VF 8 and VF 9 EV SUVs first out the gate

VinFast VF 9 3-row electric SUV arriving to Canada in 2023 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Their first two vehicles, the VF 8 mid-size SUV we reviewed here and larger VF 9 crossovers, are set to arrive in Canada later this year but future North American units will be produced in a new facility to be built in North Carolina.

The smaller of the two crossovers, the 5-seat VF8 has already launched in some markets, but VinFast has been slow to release complete North American price and leasing information. The VF 8 Eco with a range of 420 km starts at $54,990 Canadian.

VinFast VF 8 2-row electric SUV is the EV company's first vehicle arriving to Canada | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Read our full 2023 VF 8 SUV first drive review here.

There’s no pricing available for Plus models, which have a range of 400 km. Both have a 10-year, 125,000 mile/200,000 km bumper-to-bumper warranty. VinFast will throw in a free home charger and installation, valued at $849 and $1,000 respectively. 

Shoppers have two options when buying a new VinFast EV

Option 1: buy a VinFast EV with the battery included – the conventional way

Here’s where it gets interesting––that price doesn’t include battery. While initially VinFast’s plans were to sell you just the vehicle and make the batteries available only through subscription, they’ll now offer the battery as a $10,000 option. 

Still a bargain when you consider that most EV replacement batteries can cost around $20,000. 

VinFast Manufacturing Facility, Haiphong, Vietnam | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Option 2: monthly battery subscription plan

The other option is a battery subscription or lease program. Customers who buy a VinFast VF 8 or VF 9 can opt for a monthly subscription fee that will apply for the entire life of their vehicle. VinFast will then bear responsibility for all battery maintenance, repairs – or replacement cost if the battery’s charging capacity drops below 70%.

Originally, VinFast had planned to offer two leasing plans: a “flex plan” that charged $35 per month for the VF 8 and $44 for the VF 9 with a mileage cap of 498 km per month. After that there’s an 11 cent (VF 8) and 15 cent (VF 9) penalty per kilometre. 

So if the owner happens to take a road trip and exceeds the allowed mileage by 200 kms – there’s an extra $22 or $30 respectively, tacked onto the monthly bill. 

This option disappeared from the VinFast web page when the new pricing options were offered – probably due to some negative feedback about the leasing options, and the lack of an all-in, battery inclusive price.

VinFast Manufacturing Facility, Haiphong, Vietnam | Photo: Amee Reehal 

VinFast’s Fixed Plan includes unlimited mileage in the monthly battery subscription

VinFast’s Fixed Plan subscription model offers unlimited mileage and is available for the vehicle’s lifespan – even through ownership transfer.

At $259 monthly for the VF 8 ($349 for the VF9) this does seem steep – especially when tacked onto a monthly loan payment. But when compared to fuel prices that are constantly rising it starts to look like a bargain.

The EV battery leasing program isn’t new: Back in 2013 the Smart Fortwo electric gave customers the option of buying the entire car outright or leasing the Smart Fortwo’s battery pack

But those who opted for the program were mainly in California. Nissan briefly toyed with the idea of leasing the battery packs separately when they introduced the Leaf in 2011, but ended up marketing the car as a package deal. 

So, will Canadians go for a battery leasing program?

Battery leasing programs were historically a tough sell here in Canada. We North Americans are a car-proud society and are traditionally used to owning our cars. But with the rise of car share and ride share programs, the explosive growth of electric vehicle technology and infrastructure, and other alternative transportation options, it may be an idea whose time has come.

Learn more about VinFast Canada’s battery subscription program here.

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