Chinese automotive leader wants to produce Tesla equivalent

On March 23, 2021, Chinese automaker Geely – owner of Volvo and Lotus, shareholder of Daimler which owns Mercedes – announced the launch of Zeekr, a premium electric vehicle brand. According to BBC, the first deliveries are expected in the third quarter of 2021.

Geely is no stranger to the world of electric cars, quite the contrary. Polestar, owned by Volvo, produces efficient electric cars. Polestar’s headquarters are in Sweden and the vehicles are produced in China. On the Lotus side, electric mobility is in the spotlight with the Evija model. Geely also owns the London EV Company, which produces taxis typical of the British capital, and which designs hybrid cars.

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Geely’s announcement comes amid a tense backdrop between China and Tesla. On March 19, 2021, the Chinese government banned its officials and military personnel from purchasing and using vehicles of the American brand. The cameras which film the entire environment in which the vehicle is located are particularly questioned. In addition, potential backdoors in computer systems worry the Communist Party, especially when connecting a laptop to the car. Beijing is concerned that some Tesla data will end up in the hands of the United States government, which Elon Musk denies. A bad patch for the American company which, in the year 2020, achieved 30% of its deliveries and 20% of its turnover in the Middle Kingdom. In the same year, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in China.

Zeekr will therefore face competition from Tesla, but also from Chinese groups such as Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto. In addition, Dongfeng Motor, a Chinese company partner of Nissan and PSA Peugeot Citro├źn, announced a range of electric cars dubbed Voyah. Voyah’s first deliveries are scheduled for July 2021. This competition serves the ambition of the Chinese government, which wants 20% of cars sold to be electric from 2025.

Zeekr will initially focus on the Chinese market while seeking to gain market share overseas. The brand will be operated under a new entity, Lingling Technologies. In 2020 Geely’s sales fell from 1.36 million vehicles sold in 2019 to 1.32 million in 2020.

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