Geely launches premium EV brand Zeekr to take on Tesla

Sam Dickerson

24 Mar 2021

Chinese automotive company launches electric vehicle marque to sit alongside its Polestar, Volvo and Lotus brands.

Geely has announced the launch of a new luxury electric vehicle (EV) brand with its sights set firmly on taking on Tesla in the race for dominance in the global EV market.

China's biggest automaker, which owns Volvo, Lotus, Polestar, and black cab maker The London EV Company, launched its Zeekr brand on Tuesday (March 23) with the aim to tap into surging global demand for EVs.

Geely, based in Hangzhou, said it would develop and manufacture premium EVs under the Zeekr brand and that it expects to deliver its first vehicles in the third quarter of 2021.

Geely already has plenty of hands-on experience in producing high-end EVs through its Volvo-owned Polestar brand, which develops premium electric performance cars. Polestar is headquartered in Sweden with production and manufacturing based in China.

Lotus, another brand in Geely's stable, is developing an electric-powered supercar called Evija, a "British all-electric hypercar" that boasts 2000bhp and is due for release later in the year.

In terms of direct competition for Zeekr, Tesla's Model 3 was the top-selling electric vehicle model in China in 2020, and the fledgling home-grown brand will be looking to take a sizeable chunk out of the American manufacturer's Chinese market share.

Zeekr will also be competing against other more established Chinese EV automakers such as Nio, Xpeng and BYD Auto which have all seen healthy sales in the last year, and will find itself battling against larger manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors as they all turn their focus to EV production.

Zeekr, which will operate under a new entity named Lingling Technologies, will be initially focused on the Chinese market, but it will also start to assess overseas opportunities due to rising worldwide demand for premium EVs.

Michael Dunne, chief executive of ZoZo Go, a consultancy firm focusing on the Asian car market, said: "Chairman Li Shufu senses a need to inject his 24-year-old company, Geely, with a startup vibe like what he sees at NIO, Xpeng and Li Auto.

"To get there, he envisions an electric baby - Lingling Technologies - that operates independently from Geely," Dunne added.

Geely reported its annual results on Tuesday (March 23) which showed it sold 1.32 million cars in 2020, compared with 1.36 million sales in 2019.

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Sam Dickerson

24 Mar 2021