Geely plans to establish a new electric brand specifically to enter global markets and challenge the likes of Tesla, officials with knowledge of the Chinese car maker’s activities have revealed to Autocar.
The premium brand, named Zeekr, will be integrated into Geely’s newly created Lingling Technology offshoot and operate separately from the more volume-led Geometry EV brand launched by Geely in 2019.
Rumours surrounding Geely’s use of the Zeekr name for its new EV brand have been circulating since the Hangzhou-based company filed for trademarks on a series of Zeekr-themed names earlier this month.
Geely – which owns Volvo, Lotus, Lynk&Co, Proton, Terrafugia and LEVC and is a 50% shareholder in Mercedes-Benz parent company's Smart city car brand – plans to base Zeekr models on its open-source Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform conceived for both EVs and PHEVs.
While details of Geely’s Zeekr brand are yet to be made public, speculation suggests it could be operated in partnership with Chinese internet services company Baidu.
A strategic partnership between Geely, China’s largest private car maker, and Baidu, China’s leader in internet seach operations, was announced in January.
Baidu’s automotive-based operations currently centre around software development in an approach similar to Google parent company Alphabet’s Waymo division. Baidu’s open source operating system Apollo has attracted partners including Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Ford as well as semi-conductor producers Intel and Nvidia.
Geely is set to sell Zeekr models through dedicated sales centres located in city centres using a marketing strategy that departs from its traditional dealership model. It also plans to support vehicles sales with a line of lifestyle-orientated clothing and accessory lines in a move aimed at reaching new customer groups.