Can this Chinese startup become a top 3 premium EV maker? Its Europe boss reveals ambitious plans

Chinese EV maker ZEEKR has ambitious plans in Europe over the next several years. The EV maker’s European head, Spiros Fotinos, says ZEEKR wants to be among the top three premium pure EV makers by the end of the decade.

Established by the parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, or simply Geely, in April 2021, ZEEKR is moving quickly to expand its brand name in the premium space.

Shortly after, the brand’s first model, the ZEEKR 001, began rolling off the assembly line that October. Zeekr claims its new 2023 ZEEKR 001 is the longest-cruising EV with over 620 miles (1,032 km) cruising range powered by CATL’s third-generation cell-to-pack “Qiling” batteries.

The Chinese EV startup followed it up by releasing its second electric model, the 009 multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), with three rows of seating and up to 510 miles (822 km) CLTC range.

It was initially believed ZEEKR’s third EV would be called the 003. However, the brand launched its first electric SUV in China last month, calling it the ZEEKR X.

Powered by two electric motors and a 66 kWh battery, the electric SUV delivers up to 422 hp (315 kW) and 400 lb-ft (543 Nm) of torque for a range upwards of 348 miles (560 km).

ZEEKR says it will begin delivering X models in China in June, followed by Europe and other Asian markets outside China.

According to ZEEKR’s Europe CEO, the brand aims to expand into the region as a top pure EV player.

Zeekr wants to be a top 3 premium EV maker

Fotinos, speaking with Automotive News Europe, said:

We want to be one of the top three premium pure-EV players by the end of the decade. That’s our ambition.

According to Fotinos, the EV startup will accomplish this through “product and customer experience,” offering a “one-stop-shop” approach for EV customers, including charging, financing, insurance, maintenance packages, and more to make it easy for buyers to go electric.

When asked who the “top three will be Tesla, Zeekr – and who else?” Fortinos replied, “Tesla will probably be there,” but seemed more concerned with German premium brands. He added:

The German premiums occupy around 60 to 75 percent of the market, so if you cannot conquest from there, you are not going to grow very much. 

ZEEKR has several advantages over other EV startups with backing and manufacturing support from Geely. On top of this, the company was “born pure EV,” so it doesn’t have to spend time and resources transitioning over. Geely also owns Volvo and Polestar, which are both accelerating EV sales in Europe.

Fotinos says the brand will begin its European campaign in the Netherlands and Sweden, rapidly expanding in the rest of Western Europe through 2026.

Although ZEEKR hasn’t yet certified its specs, he expects the 001 to have around 373 miles (600 km) range and the X around 273 miles (440 km) in Europe, with fast charging abilities from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes.

Electrek’s Take

Can ZEEKR become a top three premium EV maker in Europe? As Fotinos said, they will first have to win over the German premium customers, but it may not be an impossible task.

China’s leading EV maker, BYD, surpassed Volkswagen to become China’s best-selling brand as demand for zero-emission electric continues climbing.

Perhaps, more importantly, new information from the German statistics office shows the number of EVs shipped to Germany from China tripled over the last year. Over 28% of Germany’s EV imports in the first three months were from China, compared with just 7.8% last year.

Buyers are beginning to look past the brand name for the latest tech and software. What do you guys think? Does ZEEKR have a place in the premium EV market? Let us know in the comments.