Geely, the Chinese owner of Volvo Cars, officially launched the Zeekr brand as an electric-only premium automaker designed to bring new, younger buyers into the EV fold. The brand gets its name by combining the letter Z, for Generation Z, and the word “geek”. No, we’re not making that up.
According to the company, “Generation Z is the new consumer force, born between the mid-90s and the early 2010s, who have grown up in an increasingly digital world.” These buyers “have new ideas … and expect a uniform digital experience that covers their home, office, as well as their car. They also see electrification as the norm and not as an alternative.” Geely defines “geek” as “a term for those that are fixated with and have extensive knowledge of technology, further fitting the technological focus of the brand.”
Geely explains that the Zeekr brand was created in response to buyers who don’t appreciate the “outdated, broken model” that has long defined the new-car buying experience, which Geely suggests causes automakers to focus solely on moving hardware; whatever happened after that initial sale “was neither here nor there.” Zeekr “will put software at the forefront to continually add services” to keep its vehicles “up to date and competitive.” Zeekr vehicles will be sold online and through “experience centers”, starting in China with plans to expand to Europe and North America.
It will target these young, affluent buyers first with the 001, an electric vehicle based on Geely’s SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) platform. Like the Lynk & Co. Zero, which looks close to identical to the Zeekr 001, is expected to be the first vehicle based on the SEA platform, the 001 will boast dual electric motors and enough battery capacity to offer more than 400 miles of range on a single charge. The 001 will be capable of doing 0-60 in under 4 seconds.
It’s likely that future electric vehicles from other Geely brands, including Volvo and Polestar, will also use the SEA platform.
Parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Geely Automobile said last month they would jointly invest 2 billion yuan ($306 million) in the new venture, seeking to position Zeekr as a startup under Geely group, also known overseas for its 9.7% stake in Germany’s Daimler AG.
The price tags for Zeekr cars will be around 300,000 yuan (around $46,000 at current exchange rates), and Flynn Chen, Zeekr’s vice president, said the brand will explore new sales and marketing methods, including allowing customers to subscribe to car-using rights and offering a stake in the company to car buyers.
Zhao Chunlin, general manager of Zeekr’s production base in China’s eastern city of Ningbo, said the plant, owned by Geely group, will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 300,000 electric vehicles. Zhao said the plant can produce six models on its production line, and can further expand production capabilities.
Vice President Chen said Zeekr will use a direct-sales model to manage pricing and inventory. The brand plans to open more than 100 stores this year.
Geely Automobile’s parent group announced a flurry of tie-ups by Geely earlier this year as it pursues a goal of becoming a leading EV manufacturer and engineering service provider.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.