Vinfast, the Vietnamese manufacturer of battery-powered devices and many other things besides, is apparently “gauging” whether to offer its smallest and cheapest battery-powered device – the VF3 – in the United States.
If it can get away with it.
The problem with the VF3 is that it is everything the EVs available for sale in this country are not. It is extremely small, very light (for an EV) and very slow. It only goes about 190 miles, according to reports. And it can’t go much faster than the speed limit on most American highways.
Vinfast reportedly sells this micro-sized (less than ten feet long) two-door SUV-looking device for the equivalent of just under $20,000 in Vietnam. If such a device were available here, it would be something no other EV for sale here is.
And the danger there is it might actually sell – without using the government to force other people to help pay for each “sale,” as is necessary to move the EVs that are available for sale in this country. (If the federal tax-rebates that subsidize some $7,500 of the cost of buying an EV were cancelled tomorrow, “sales” of the battery-powered devices that are currently available in this country would face-plant even harder than they already have; it is why these subsidies were so fiercely defended – and resurrected – with “bipartisan” support.)
The problem – for Vinfast – is that the VF3 is not likely compliant.
It is too small – and too light – to make it through the gantlet of federal “safety” requirements – especially bumper and side-impact requirements. These requirements have served as barriers-to-entry for a whole slew of small, light – and cheap – little vehicles that one can readily buy in Asia and other outside-the-U.S. markets. Including France, where someone who needs a very basic – and very cheap – little car can buy a voiture sans permis or (VSP) which is a very basic, very cheap little car you don’t even need to have a license to be allowed to drive.
These VSP cars cost less than the equivalent of $5,000.
But they, too, are noncompliant. And no one is allowed to drive in the United States without the government’s permission.
The argument that will be deployed to prevent the VF3 from being offered for sale here is the same one that’s been used here for decades to prevent cars like the VSP cars (and countless other small cars) from being sold here.
It is that such vehicles aren’t “safe.”
It is an absurd argument, in the first place, because these vehicles are so slow it’s hard to get hurt driving one. The VSPs have top speeds around 30 MPH, which is fast enough for city driving – and slow enough that if you do wreck, the chances of being hurt are much less than they would be if you had been driving a $50,000 Tesla at Ludicrous Speed.
It is hard to drive faster than a VSP car can go in the city – and it is often illegal.
Washington, DC, for instance, instituted a city-wide 25 MPH speed limit on most surface street back in 2022. Of what use is a vehicle that can accelerate to 60 MPH in 3 seconds on such streets? Once you’re on the highway, maybe. But not everyone needs a highway car. Or a car that can get to 60 in 3 seconds.
Many could probably afford a car like the VF3 or – even better – a VSP car. But they are not allowed to buy such cars, which cuts to the bone of the “safety” argument that has prevented such cars from being available – that is, legal – for sale in this country:
How did the federal government acquire this power to not allow people to buy cars they can afford, that suit their particular needs? How did the government transition from being the mechanism for dealing with people who hurt other people into a mechanism for preventing people from hurting themselves?
Even when they haven’t?
Driving a very small, very light little car does not mean you’re going to crash it. It does not mean you’ll be hurt by driving it. You might be, of course. Anything is possible. Especially if you try hard enough. And you might also fall off a ladder, trip in the shower or smash your thumb with a hammer. Maybe the government ought to not allow us to buy ladders or hammers – or take showers. It would amount to the same thing based on the the same effronterous assertion that our betters in government know best.
There is also a bitter irony here – as regards the VF3. Which American buyers will likely never see. It is that this is an EV that aligns with the narrative behind the pushing of battery-powered devices. It requires fewer raw materials to make – and less energy to power. Put another way, it causes less “carbon” to be generated, which you’d think would be desirable – if indeed a “crisis” were brewing that was being caused by too much “carbon” abounding.
But never mind that.
The VF3 – and the VSP – are not going to be allowed precisely because they might allow for more people to own and drive a car. Especially young, first-time buyers.
The way to prevent that from happening is to assure them they are being kept “safe” – from cars they might be able to afford and would probably like to drive.
If they were allowed to.
. . .
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