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Automobile

Vingroup automaker makes debut at Vietnam Motor Show

VinFast joins Toyota, VW and Ford in targeting nation's growing middle class

VinFast showed off its Fadil compact car at the Vietnam Motor Show on Oct. 23. (Photo by Tomoya Onishi)

HO CHI MINH CITY -- This year's Vietnam Motor Show opened here Wednesday featuring the country's newest automaker, a unit of conglomerate Vingroup, among 15 foreign and domestic brands.

VinFast showed off three models in its first appearance at the show: a sport utility vehicle, a sedan and a compact car.

The automaker opened a $3.5 billion factory in northern Vietnam in June, becoming the first major local car brand in this fast-growing Southeast Asian economy with a population of nearly 100 million.

International automakers are also targeting Vietnam's rising middle class. Volkswagen, Toyota Motor and Ford Motor are among the exhibitors at this year's show, along with luxury brands Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus.

The Vietnamese auto market remains small, but a growth spurt is anticipated as per capita gross domestic product nears $3,000, the level at which car buying tends to accelerate. Auto sales grew 5.8% last year to about 290,000 vehicles.

Vingroup, the country's biggest listed conglomerate, has expanded from its core real estate business into smartphone and automobile manufacturing. Its car business has drawn on support from European partners including BMW and Robert Bosch.

The Vietnam Motor Show runs through Sunday and is expected to draw about 200,000 visitors, event organizers say.

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