Operation: save Holden’s workers

A LESSER-KNOWN VIETNAMESE CAR COMPANY COULD SAVE AUSSIE JOBS LEFT HIGH AND DRY BY GM

CAMERON KIRBY

T HERE’S A NEW name that motoring enthusiasts need to take note of: VinFast. The Vietnameseowned car maker has thrown a lifeline to Holden employees scrambling for jobs after GM’s decision to axe the brand.

The company has been snapping up Australia’s best engineers following the end of local manufacturing – and with the shutters falling at Holden, leaving 800 workers in the lurch, it’s seizing the opportunity to hire more.

It’s estimated that a few hundred Australians will be employed by the end of the hiring spree.

VinFast is owned by Vietnam’s largest private business, Vingroup, with assets totalling $35 billion. It has started up an Australian engineering hub, VinFast Engineering Australia, with a number of ex-Holden, Ford, and Toyota employees on the payroll.

The man in charge is ex-GM heavyweight Jim DeLuca, and he has stacked senior positions at the twoyear-old company with people poached from his former employer. Design director Dave Lyon, vice-president of planning and program management Roy Flecknell, and engineering vicepresident Kevin Fisher all formerly collected pay cheques from GM.

VinFast has stated it intends to become a global automobile company and brand

The most senior Australian in VinFast’s executive team is Shaun Calvert, another ex-GM hire, who is vice-president of manufacturing. Recent hires include Kevin Yardley, a 25-year Holden and GM veteran, and Joe Sawyer, who has 23 years of experience with Holden.

Vingroup has reportedly invested $3.5 billion into VinFast, which will move from its temporary office in Melbourne’s CBD to a purpose-built Port Melbourne facility. It has built a plant in Hanoi for car production, with Vingroup founder Pham Nhat Vuong aiming to sell into the US by 2021.

VinFast has stated it intends to become a “global automobile company and brand”, and its new Australian headquarters indicate this is a case of when, not if.

CAMERON KIRBY

SKIN TWINS

VinFast cheat sheet

LAUNCHED AT THE Paris motor show in 2018, VinFast’s first two models use BMW architectures and drivetrains supplied by the German manufacturer under licence.

The LUX A2.0 sedan is a 5 Series beneath the bodywork, while the LUX SA2.0 SUV is an X5. Both are designed by Pininfarina and powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed ZF transmission.

A limited-edition LUX SA SUV will take a 339kW/624Nm atmo LT1 V8 donated by GM. The same unit is fitted to the Chevrolet Camaro SS and the outgoing C7 Corvette.