Family of Four Killed in VinFast Crash 

VinFast vehicles parked in California

Vehicle’s owner submitted complaint to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging steering failure, according to California local news station Fox2 KTVU 

Hunterbrook Media’s investment affiliate, Hunterbrook Capital, did not take any positions related to this article.

On April 24, a VinFast VF8 with a family of four inside careened off a road in Pleasanton, California, and slammed into a pole, according to police. Then it hit a tree. Then it caught fire.

All four passengers died, including two children. One was 13 years old; the other was nine. 

While police investigate the tragedy, attention has turned to VinFast, the Vietnamese electric car company whose flashy entrance into the United States has been inhibited by recalled vehicles, horrendous reviews, and underwhelming sales, as Hunterbrook Media reported in a months-long investigation published in April. 

Pleasanton-area news outlets reported that the VF8 did not belong to the person driving the car when it crashed; it had been borrowed from a friend.

The owner filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on April 29, according to local news stations. It claims the vehicle’s lane assist function had previously attempted to steer the vehicle off course.

“While driving at unknown speeds, the steering wheel automatically maneuvered to the right direction,” read the complaint. While the vehicle’s owner reportedly had been able to “regain control of the steering wheel,” he expressed concern that the failure may have recurred when his friend was driving, leading to the vehicle crashing “into a pole, then a tree where it came to a stop.” 

A separate VF8 complaint posted on the NHTSA website from April 29 noted similar problems in another incident: “Vehicle drove into traffic cones at night when adaptive cruise engaged. Freeway was reduced to two lanes and car ignored them.” A month earlier, on March 26, a complaint read: “While traveling the car suddenly steering randomly and almost cause a accident twice, before i have time to turn off the system.” 

In the Pleasanton crash, the car veered off the road at a point where it narrowed from two lanes to one, according to the Pleasanton Weekly, a community newsletter.

This is the first deadly accident involving a VinFast in the U.S. — as far as Hunterbrook Media is aware. VinFast issued a recall for 999 VF8s in May 2023. At the time, this was the entire fleet of vehicles that had been shipped to the country. 

The company has also been criticized for its steering features in reviews. In one, from Donut Media, a highly popular auto YouTube channel, the reviewers described the VF8’s allegedly “wonky driving assistance features.” Vinfast has said its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems feature  “allows the driver to drive without needing to manipulate and drive continuously.”

“I don’t trust this car,” said one of the reviewers. Then, their conversation went like this:

Driver:  “Oh my God!”

Passenger: “What the f—”

Driver: “If you don’t have your blinker on, you can’t switch lanes … Can you imagine if you went to switch lanes and you didn’t turn your blinker on? … It just jerked the wheel again.”

Passenger: “I feel it.”

A later review from Donut Media said there had been some improvements: “VinFast is making attempts to fix their mistakes.”

As of December of last year, VinFast had shipped 3,118 VF8s to the U.S., but just 265 had been sold, according to EV registration data. The company cited an increase in sales to the United States in the first quarter of this year.

The NHTSA website lists nine complaints for the VF8.

VinFast has also had recalls in its home country: In February, the carmaker recalled almost 6,000 VF5s to replace a switch connected to the steering wheel. 

The California crash, meanwhile, seemingly does not appear on any Vietnamese news websites. Negative information related to VinFast has been censored in the past, according to Hunterbrook Media’s reporting.

A VinFast spokesperson provided the following statement to Hunterbrook Media: “VinFast 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. It is baseless to speculate about the cause of the accident until all investigations are complete.”

Blake Spendley joined Hunterbrook Media from the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), where he led investigations as a Research Specialist for the Marine Corps and US Navy. He built and owns the leading open-source intelligence (OSINT) account on X/Twitter, called @OSINTTechnical, which now distributes Hunterbrook Media content. His OSINT research has been published in Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and The Economist, among other top business outlets. He has a BA in Political Science from USC.

Hunterbrook Media publishes investigative and global reporting — with no ads or paywalls. When articles do not include Material Non-Public Information (MNPI), or “insider info,” they may be provided to our affiliate Hunterbrook Capital, an investment firm which may take financial positions based on our reporting. Subscribe here. Learn more here. 

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