Zeekr launches SUV to boost premium EV sales

12 April 2023 - 17:37
By Reuters
The Zeekr X offers features such as the ability to unlock the car using facial recognition technology and an in-vehicle refrigerator.
Image: Zeekr The Zeekr X offers features such as the ability to unlock the car using facial recognition technology and an in-vehicle refrigerator.

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Zeekr on Wednesday launched a compact sports-utility vehicle (SUV) as the Geely-owned brand strives for market share in a premium segment previously dominated by German rivals.

With a starting price of 189,800 yuan (roughly R506,187), the Zeekr X SUV offers features such as the ability to unlock the car using facial recognition technology and an in-vehicle refrigerator, CEO Andy An told an event in China's southwestern city of Chengdu.

The company will start delivering the Zeekr X SUV from June this year, he added.

Zeekr's launch takes place ahead of the Auto Shanghai show, scheduled for April 18 to 27, where automakers such as fellow Chinese brand Nio and Germany's BMW are expected to show off their latest models and technology.

EV makers such as Zeekr and Nio have been taking market share from German carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW in China by launching EV models more quickly.

New energy vehicles, which include pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars, accounted for 44% of first-quarter sales of premium cars, data from China's Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows.

While Geely founder Eric Li has ambitions for Zeekr, it lags EV peers in China.

It sold 15,234 of its two existing models — the 001 sedan and the 009 multipurpose vehicle — in the first quarter, accounting for just 2% of China's battery-electric vehicle sales. By comparison, Nio sold 31,041 vehicles in the same period, while Tesla sold 137,429.

Zeekr aims to double annual sales in 2023 to about 140,000 vehicles and also plans to sell cars in Europe, An said in January.