By Chavi Mehta and Phuong Nguyen
(Reuters) -Vietnamese electric-vehicle maker VinFast said on Thursday its revenue more than doubled in the second quarter on higher deliveries to domestic customers, in its first results since its market debut last month.
VinFast, backed by Vietnam's largest conglomerate Vingroup, garnered a valuation of about $85 billion – higher than that of legacy U.S. automakers Ford – on its Nasdaq debut, raising the stakes for the company to show growth overseas.
The company's shares were down about 7.5% as of 1446 GMT. They have lost about 54% of their value since the start of trading on Aug. 15 following the merger with a blank-check company.
VinFast's second-quarter revenue rose 131.2% to $327 million. Its net loss in the quarter was $526.7 million, narrowing 8.2% from the same period last year.
"In the next couple of years, we should be able to be profitable," VinFast Chief Executive Le Thi Thu Thuy told analysts on an earnings call on Thursday.
VinFast's founder and biggest financial backer Pham Nhat Vuong had earlier expected the company to break even as soon as the end of next year.
Although VinFast did not give a clear break down of sales by markets, much of the revenue surge has been driven by EV sales to the domestic market, thanks to a scheme to turn its cars into green taxis in Vietnam's main cities.
VinFast has shipped nearly 3,000 units of its VF8 model to North America and committed to make deliveries of the larger VF9 EV by the end of this year.
"U.S. sales aren't expected to improve any time soon. The reputational issues caused by the launch of the VF8 will not be solved by the VF9," said Third Bridge analyst David Byrne.
The model received negative reviews in the U.S. over its quality and the company voluntarily recalled the first batch of 999 cars to fix a software glitch.
To accelerate sales, Thuy said VinFast was in talks with several dealers in the U.S. and would announce the dealership soon.
Since its establishment in 2017, VinFast has announced numerous ambitious EV growth plans overseas.
The loss-making carmaker last week flagged a plan to establish an assembly factory in Indonesia, where supplies of nickel, a material for EV batteries, were abundant.
"We are going to Indonesia with our battery company to get advantage of the battery ecosystem there," Thuy said on the call, adding the Indonesian government was open and offered tax benefits.
VinFast also plans delivery of the first 3,000 VF8 cars for European customers this year, Reuters reported on Thursday, at a time when the European Union is considering imposing tariffs on its Chinese rivals.
According to Thuy, VinFast's market was different from that of Chinese competitors.
VinFast, which began making EVs in 2021, expects to sell up to 50,000 units this year. Chief Financial Officer David Mansfield told analysts he expected sales would ramp up in the last quarter.
Mansfield said Chinese battery maker Gotion's decision to purchase $150 million worth of VinFast share was positive and he was glad that Gotion has become a strategic investor.
($1 = 24,310.0000 dong)
(Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sharon Singleton)
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