Geely Raises $500 Million in the First Ever Outside Investment Round for its New Premium EV Brand ‘Zeekr'
【Summary】Chinese automaker Geely Automobile and its parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. (Geely) raised $500 million in the first-ever external funding round for its new jointly owned premium electric vehicle brand Zeekr. Geely announced it was establishing Zeekr in March as a standalone brand to compete with Tesla, XPeng, NIO Inc. and others in the premium EV market in China.
Chinese automaker Geely Automobile and its parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. (Geely) raised $500 million in the first-ever external funding round for its new jointly owned premium electric vehicle brand Zeekr.
Geely announced it was establishing Zeekr in March as a standalone brand to compete with Tesla, XPeng, NIO Inc. and others in the premium EV category in China.
The funding round was led by Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of Intel Corp. Other investors include battery maker CATL and online video entertainment company Bilibili, Cathay Fortune Corporation, a mining firm, and private-equity firm Boyu Capital. The companies signed long-term investment partnerships with Zeekr, the automaker said in a statement.
The companies are expected to contribute their expertise in intelligent connectivity, raw materials, batteries and marketing to reach young, tech-savvy buyers in China. Zeekr will have its own battery technologies, battery management systems, electric motor technologies and electric vehicle supply chain.
As vehicles become more like smartphones on wheels, automakers around the world are working with more tech companies, battery makers, even mining firms to secure supply of materials for EV production. One of the most critical is securing a steady supply of raw materials for batteries.
Zeekr said its investors would jointly hold a 5.6% stake in the company, valuing it around $9 billion, according to Reuters. Zeekr's Chief financial officer Yuan Jing told reporters that the company does not currently have plans for an initial public offering.
The first model produced by the new brand is the "Zeekr 001", a compact, battery powered wagon, also referred to as a "shooting brake" in the industry. At first glance, the sleek Zeekr 001 looks like a smaller version of the Porsche Panarmera Sport Turismo.
The Zeekr 001 is poised to give segment leader Tesla more competition in the premium-electric category in China, which is the world's biggest auto market. The Zeekr 001 will compete with the Model Y and other mid-size EVs like the XPeng G3i SUV and forthcoming P5 sedan from XPeng.
Zeekr says the 001 will offer an "unrivaled luxury vehicle experience in terms of comfort and performance." Like XPeng, Zeekr is also targeting younger and more tech savvy buyers who are more likely to buy an electric vehicle. This group of buyers are seeking advanced vehicles that are an extension of their digital lives, with connectivity features and smart technologies such as automated driving.
The first deliveries of the 001 are expected to begin in October. Reservations are already booked for 2021.
The Zeekr 001 will be built on Geely's Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) EV platform. The SEA is the world's first open-source electric vehicle architecture, according to Geely. The SEA can support the development of models with a wheelbase ranging from 1800mm to 3300mm.
The SEA was developed from the ground up to bring users a smarter and more convenient driving experience with continuous innovations in areas of interior space, electric power, smart connectivity, autonomous driving, safety, and performance, according to Geely.
The EV platform includes a hardware layer, a software layer, and an ecosystem layer. It supports the continued development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including highly automated and fully autonomous driving.
Like Tesla vehicles, the 001 and future EVs from Zeekr will support software upgrades throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.
The SEA also supports ultra-high speed 800-volt charging. Geely is targeting 435 miles of range for its future EVs built on the SEA platform.
Zeekr plans to launch 6 all-new models over the next three years. The company aims to sell 650,000 electric vehicles a year by 2025, which is even more than Tesla's goals for China. Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 vehicles in China this year, that's compared with the 150,000 vehicles it produced in 2020, according to analysts.
In addition to the new Zeekr brand, Geely is the owner of Sweden-based Volvo Cars. The company also holds a 9.7% stake in German automaker Daimler AG. Geely and Volvo Cars also jointly own the electric performance brand Polestar, which is operated by Volvo.
Zeekr also announced its building its own charging network under a new sub-brand named "ZEEKR Power" new outlet Gasgoo reported on Monday. Each ZEEKR Power charging station will have six charging piles, which support a maximum charging rate of 360kW. Zeekr drivers will be offered app-based one-click charging, as well as the ability to reserve a charger right from the vehicle's infotainment system.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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