US investigating VinFast EV after 2 adults, 2 children die in one-car crash

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into VinFast’s first U.S. electric vehicle model less than a month after four family members — a man, a woman and two children — were killed in a one-car accident in the California Bay Area.

The crashed occurred on the night of April 24 after the driver had borrowed a 2023 VinFast VF8 from a coworker. According to Bay Area news reports, the VF8 drove off the road in the city of Pleasanton before slamming into a tree and catching fire. Five days later, the coworker who had lent the car filed a safety complaint with the NHTSA describing two previous incidents when the vehicle’s automatic driving assistance technology appeared to have jerked the steering wheel in a dangerous manner.

“The contact was concerned that the failure recurred while the coworker was driving,” the April 29 filing states.

On Wednesday, the NHTSA confirmed to The News & Observer that its Special Crash Investigations division has launched an investigation into the crash and fire. According to the government, SCI provides “the most in-depth and detailed level of crash investigation data collected by the agency,” including reports from investigative teams on injury mechanisms, safety systems, the vehicles and riders.

NHTSA conducted a preliminary review of the consumer complaint before deciding if further investigation was warranted. In the past 12 months, the agency has opened 51 investigations, NHTSA data shows, including investigations into Ford and Tesla surrounding their assisted steering technologies.

In an email earlier this month to The N&O, a VinFast spokesperson said the company “is aware of this tragic accident and our hearts go out to the family. The authorities are currently investigating the cause of the accident and will share their findings when their work is completed.”

Delays and bad publicity have hounded VinFast as the 7-year-old Vietnamese company has spent billions to produce electric vehicles for international consumers. The carmaker has pledged to build its first North American assembly plant in North Carolina, on a 1,765-acre megasite in southeastern Chatham County. The county is reviewing VinFast’s updated site plan and must approve it before construction on the main assembly area may begin. VinFast held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Chatham site 10 months ago.

A five-seat SUV, the VF8 remains the only VinFast model available to U.S. drivers. North American deliveries began in March 2023, and Triangle area customers can now buy or lease the car directly from a dealership in Cary. VinFast hopes to introduce a seven-seat VF9 model later this year and plans to bring a mini electric vehicle (called the VF3) to the United States starting in 2025.

VinFast reported delivering 9,689 electric vehicles globally during the first three months of 2024, a 28% decrease from the previous quarter. About half of these sales were made to Green and Smart Mobility, a Vietnamese taxi service controlled by VinFast’s parent company, Vingroup. Last year, company financial records show 74% of sales were made to Vingroup affiliates.

During its latest earnings calls in April, VinFast executives did not share how many VF8s have been delivered in the U.S.

NC Reality Check is an N&O series holding those in power accountable and shining a light on public issues that affect the Triangle or North Carolina. Have a suggestion for a future story? Email