By Phuong Nguyen
HANOI (Reuters) -Vietnamese automaker VinFast said on Wednesday it would start construction of a $4 billion electric vehicle factory in North Carolina next week as part of its push to expand in the United States market.
The unit of Vietnam's largest conglomerate Vingroup, which began operations in 2019, announced plans for the U.S. factory last year. It is targeting the start of production in 2025, a year later than its initial plan.
"When it begins operations, the factory will be VinFast's primary supplier of electric vehicles to the North American market," said Thuy Le, head of VinFast Auto.
The project's first phase includes a $2 billion investment in a factory capable of producing 150,000 vehicles a year.
VinFast is one of several EV startups fighting to maintain a foothold as market leaders Tesla and China's BYD engage in a price war at a time when growth in demand appears to be slowing in major markets.
The EV maker, which began to deliver cars to California in March, had earlier received funding pledges of $2.5 billion from its founder and its parent company to fuel its overseas expansion.
Vinfast had filed for a U.S. initial public offering in hopes of raising funds for its North Carolina plant, but in May announced it would instead go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Black Spade Acquisition Co.
The Vietnamese automaker expects to sell as many as 50,000 EVs this year, an almost seven-fold increase over 2022, and to break even as soon as the end of 2024, the company's founder has said.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Jamie Freed)