Holden’s famous proving Lang Lang proving ground is officially owned by Vinfast.
The Vietnamese automotive startup today settled with General Motors for the proving ground, around 85km south east of Melbourne. CarExpert understands the proving ground was sold for more than $30 million.
Outside of the land and facilities, the proving ground recently benefitted from an $8.7 million investment to install an emissions testing lab and to renovate and upgrade buildings, along with a $7.2 million program to repave the banked test track.
The proving ground includes emissions testing labs, high-speed test tracks, engineering facilities, and a network of roads designed to simulate some of the toughest, most unique conditions cars face in Australia.
From today, Vinfast’s local employees will have access to the proving ground and are expected to commence development work.
The travel restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in metropolitan Melbourne are expected to ease on November 9, allowing workers to travel between Port Melbourne and Lang Lang.
The settlement comes as Vinfast restarts work at its first operation outside of Vietnam, the Melbourne-based research and development centre – dubbed Automotive Technology Institute 2 – in Port Melbourne opened on June 11 this year.
It’s understood Vinfast has previously used other Australian test facilities, including the Monash University wind tunnel and the Linfox-owned Australian Automotive Research Centre in Anglesea, Victoria.
GM Specialty Vehicles will also have access to the proving ground after the settlement.
The Vinfast Australian operation includes around 100 employees from manufacturers including General Motors, Holden, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, and Ford, along with their partners and suppliers.
Vinfast hopes it will make a significant contribution to the development of its future vehicles, including internal-combustion and electric vehicle models.
Founded in 2017, the Vietnamese startup is the brainchild of property developer Phạm Nhật Vượng, who is Vietnam’s first billionaire with a net worth of around $6.5 billion.
Vinfast produces four vehicles – the Lux A2.0, the Lux SA2.0, the Fadil and the President – along with a number of electric motorcycles.
Both Lux use previous generation BMW platforms (F10 5 Series and F15 X5 respectively) with BMW drivetrains and designs by Pininfarina.
Both variants are available in rear- and all-wheel drive and both use the BMW 2.0-litre N20B20 engine in two outputs, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
Pricing for Lux A2.0 and Lux SA2.0 starts at $92,750 (US$65,000) and $128,400 (US$90,000) respectively.
The larger Vinfast President (also based on the F15 X5 and designed by Pininfarina) uses a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8 understood to be a GM LS3, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission by ZF. The President is limited to just 500 units and carries a price tag north of $200,000.
The smaller Fadil city car uses an Opel Karl platform with a naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, front-wheel drive, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and is priced from $25,600 (US$18,000).
Vinfast produces cars at its 828 acre green-fields site at Car Hai Island near Hai Phone, which broke ground in September 2017 at an estimated cost of $2.14 billion (US$1.5 billion).
In addition to manufacturing vehicles in Vietnam, Vinfast also has exclusive import rights for Chevrolet vehicles and has taken ownership of the General Motors Korea factory in Hanoi, which is expected to build an all-new GM-licensed global small car with Vinfast branding.
Vinfast hopes to build 250,000 cars a year during its first stage of operation, with a projected production increase to 500,000 vehicles per year by 2025. Exports are expected to begin in 2021 with the brand working on a a number of new electric vehicles that it expects to export.