Geely Auto Group has announced the formation of an electric technology firm and automotive brand called Zeekr Company Limited. With the Chinese group already holding numerous mobility-focused brands with a penchant for electrification, it’s a bit curious to see it launching another one. But Geely has indicated that Zeekr will be aimed at the premium EV market using a similar business model as Lynk & Co.
That likely means selling vehicles as a service, rather than a product owned by the driver — something we’ve been incredibly wary of since the industry starting mulling over things like subscription services and online sales. Owned jointly owned by Geely Automobile Holdings and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the plan is to start launching products in China before the end of 2021. It’s quite the swift turnaround, leading us to believe there will be some platform sharing with other Geely-owned automotive brands. New product is said to be introduced every twelve months over the next five years.
Following last week’s announcement that the T600 will serve as the tip of Zotye’s spear, probing into North America, parent company HAAH Automotive Holdings dropped hints that the brand might be one of several Chinese nameplates offered in the United States.
Zotye USA emerged in 2018, after HAAH signed a distributorship agreement with Zotye Automobile International Co. with the clear intent to get its vehicles to market in the Western world. But HAAH CEO Duke Hale claims his company has always had loftier ambitions.
At this point, it feels that every Chinese automaker has delivered an unrealistic promise of bringing fresh product into the United States within a couple of years. Last November, Zotye, Ford’s partner in Asia with a penchant for producing copycat models of European cars, announced plans to bring something over in 2020.
The firm now claims that the T600 crossover — which looks in no way like something from Volkswagen Group; certainly not an Audi Q5 or VW Touareg — will be first model in line for a boat trip to America.
Zotye Automobile has expressed its intent to become the first Chinese automaker slinging sport utility vehicles in the United States. While some outlets report that this feat would make it the first, that’s putting the cart before the horse. There are few automakers vying for this honor.
Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) previously outlined its own plan to get its flagship SUV into America by 2019, showing up at the New York International Auto Show last year to promote its exotic wares. While we weren’t overwhelmed by the product, some of which boasted faux exhaust ports and less-than-ambitious interiors, the display proved GAC was a serious automaker and seriously interested in entering the market — which is about all we’re willing to say about Zotye before we see a physical store.
Consistently loud: Foton
We ended our last overseas adventure, the Trans-Siberian Series, in Mongolia with an exploration of the best-selling cars in this cold country. I’m resuming my exploration of this part of the world, leaping South to Shanghai in China where the biennial Auto Show took place in April.
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to investigate the plethora of Chinese carmakers at the show (over 40) and trim it down to the 10 most impressive. It’s an abashedly subjective ranking. However, know that many aspects were considered to establish it: from interior/exterior quality and design of the models revealed, the number/validity of new cars, concept cars, brochures, staff availability, savviness and friendliness, as well as whether or not they improved since last year at the Beijing Auto Show.
In brackets are the ranking I gave these manufacturers at the Beijing Auto Show in 2014.
Discover the carmakers ranked from #10 to #6 below the jump…
With the return of two storied nameplates like the Ford GT and Acura NSX, it’s easy to understand why the only Chinese automaker with a display at the North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., didn’t get much attention. For the past decade or so, a number of Chinese car companies have had displays and press conferences at the media previews to the Detroit show, some of them with plans to export cars to North America, but so far little or nothing of substance has come to fruition from those plans. Whether or not they end up selling Chinese cars here, it does make a little bit of sense to take advantage of the presence at the NAIAS of thousands of members of the international press. That’s probably why GAC used the 2015 NAIAS to have the world premiere of their GS4 compact SUV. In addition to the GS4, which appears to be more of a car based crossover than a serious SUV, GAC also showed their GA6 sedan (which they say was developed for “the higher end market”) and the WITSTAR concept (that included it’s own built in aquarium between the back seats).
It happens to all foreign joint venture partners: They are invited to have tea and a chat with representatives of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). After the pleasantries are exchanged, the weather has been discussed, and statements of mutual admiration have been made, someone from the NDRC side will say: “Don’t you want to start a Chinese brand? We would really appreciate it.” Who can say no to the wishes of the Chinese government?
The latest to say “Ja” is BMW. BMW will build a second, truly “Chinese” brand for China. “We are discussing this with the NDRC, and we will find a solution,” said BMW CEO Friedrich Eichiner to Germany’s FAZ. BMW’s futuristic carbon fiber i cars won’t be BMWs in China.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- ToolGuy "We’ll see what happens with Haas." I wonder what happened with Haas?