Two months after announcing it would not launch in Australia, VinFast is selling its landmark Lang Lang proving ground.
The Vietnamese car maker is, according to sources, expected to break even from the disposal – it paid GMH $36.3m last year.
On 887 hectares, parts of the 44 kilometre track underwent a $7.2m upgrade four years ago.
An additional $1.5m was spent refurbishing some of the 11,920 square metres of buildings.
VinFast is understood to have invested in the improvements again before reopening in July; it had earmarked the asset to develop internal combustion and electronic vehicles.
Lang Lang is about 78 kilometres south east of Melbourne.
Lang Lang proving ground as a farm, housing
After previously testing on public roads, GMH acquired the Lang Lang holding in four parts from 1956.
Two parcels, covering 427ha furthest from the Bass Highway, were purchased from the government.
All of it is zoned Farming.
The proving ground was designed on the group’s 1623ha Milford, Michigan facility.
It contains a circular track, 98 metre skid pad, dust and rough roads.
A four km ride and handling area contains mock rail lines, cambers and undulations.
The asset also features sealed and unsealed hill circuits, a fuel pump, storage, offices, testing laboratories and a decommissioned collision centre.
GMH utilised the proving ground for its local range, as well as for American brands under its control – Cadillac and Chevrolet.
Prior to the property selling to VinFast, it was mooted high net worth individuals, including Lindsay Fox, were suitors.
CBRE is also targeting agricultural users – not far from metropolitan Melbourne, the land could be appropriate for intense horticulture and crop production.
Alternatively the property could be subdivided into rural lots – each which could contain a dwelling.
“The Lang Lang proving ground is one of the most advanced facilities of its type in the world, with an expansive road network and improvements including a dedicated emissions-testing facility,” Mr Adgemis said (story continues below).
“It holds a unique place in Australian motoring history and the fundamentals that made it so successful for GMH, and attracted VinFast…still ring true,” he added.
“As an expansive site within a high density employment catchment area, it offers considerable potential”.
Australia still on the radar: VinFast
Founded in 2017 by Vietnam’s first billionaire, Pham Nhật Vượng, VinFast announced its intention to launch in Australia during the national COVID lockdown, last year.
It also rented a Port Melbourne office – which is also expected to hit the market for rent.
In May, it fired about 50 of its staff, including many executives it employed from GMH.
Former deputy chief executive officer Kevin Yardley also quit five months ago.
Two months ago, VinFast confirmed it would not launch in Australia.
The Lang Lang property is still staffed pending a sale.
Walkinshaw Automotive Group is on a rental agreement to use the track 25pc of the time until March, 2022, paying $13,750 per month.
“Due to unexpected situations brought about by COVID, we have to relocate our operations back to Vietnam to ensure product development progress,” a Vinfast representative said.
“In the long term…VinFast still considers Australia one of its strategic markets”.
GMH’s Australian sell down
The Lang Lang facility is not far from the 46ha Dandenong South plant which GMH also acquired in 1956 – but is now controlled by Cbus and making way for a business park.
A shopping centre has also been constructed on part of that block.
In 2016, the car maker sold its Fishermans Bend motor making facility to the state government, which recently announced plans for a multi-billion commercial asset which will also contain a University of Melbourne campus.
Pelligra Group acquired Holden’s then-vacant Elizabeth North (Adelaide) manufacturing plant in 2017.
GMH made the surprise move to quit selling cars in Australia last February; since then many of its dealerships have been re-leased.
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