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Chinese brand Zeekr reveals EV people-mover, plans IPO and exports

Geely has big plans for its Zeekr electric vehicle brand, and it has a big van for it too.

The Zeekr 009 is an electric people-mover with 400kW of power and over 800km of range, and is being billed as the world’s first pure luxury electric MPV.

It’s the second vehicle for the fledgling brand, which is set to be publicly listed, and launched in the European market.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has confirmed Geely can proceed with the listing of Krypton, a non-wholly-owned subsidiary engaged in the research, development and sales of EVs and batteries under the Zeekr brand.

The company says the terms of the proposed spin-off, including the offering size and price range, haven’t been finalised.

Zeekr CEO An Conghui told a roundtable, in remarks reported by Reuters, that it will enter Europe in 2023 with the Zeekr 001 crossover.

It’s unclear whether the 009 could follow, considering it’s very much aimed at the bustling upscale people-mover segment in China.

Zeekr will be the latest in an onslaught of Chinese brands entering Europe, including Hongqi, Nio, Xpeng and Great Wall Motor’s Ora and Wey brands. Notably, many of the brands aiming for a slice of the European market are EV-only brands, such as Nio.

Zeekr’s aspirations extend beyond Europe, too, with its CEO telling Bloomberg earlier this year the brand will target North America after 2022.

A lot of Chinese automakers have spoken about entering North America for years now but thus far no major Chinese brands have set up shop, unless you count Chinese-Swedish Polestar, though Chinese-built vehicles have been sold by familiar brands like Buick and Volvo.

With Lotus, Polestar and Volvo sitting under the Geely umbrella and offering cars there, that theoretically makes it easier for a brand like Zeekr to crack the market.

Though the 009 is Zeekr’s second model, the brand has opted not to follow the same confusing strategy – employed by fellow Geely brands Polestar and Lynk & Co – of naming vehicles in the order they were launched.

The 009 people-mover is offered with either 116kWh or 140kWh batteries supplied by CATL, with range figures of 702km and 822km – albeit both on the generous CLTC test cycle.

Regardless of battery, the 009 produces 400kW of power and 686Nm of torque from its dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain.

That gives it a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 4.5 seconds – heady performance for a boxy people-mover. It also has a relatively slippery drag coefficient of 0.27.

The company says the smaller battery can be fast-charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 28 minutes.

The 009 measures 5209mm long, 2024mm wide and 1848-1856mm tall on a 3205mm wheelbase, almost identical dimensionally to the LDV Mifa and its electric Mifa 9 counterpart due here this year.

It’s also slightly longer and wider than a Kia Carnival.

All models ride on a “high-performance” air suspension set-up, with double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension.

As expected of an EV, there’s a one-pedal driving mode, while Mobileye EyeQ5H intelligent driving chips and a suite of cameras and radars power the 009’s suite of advanced driver assist features.

There’s autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse), adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, safe-exit warning, and remote control parking as standard, with even more driver assist equipment available.

Standard equipment on all 009s includes headlights with matrix LED technology, adaptive high-beam, and steering-guided beam, as well as power sliding doors and dual sunroofs (the rear a panoramic unit).

There’s no missing the 009 with its bluff front end, with a large metallic surface where a grille would sit on a combustion-powered car. Called the “Fountain of Light”, it features 154 LED strips.

But the real highlight is the interior, which is swathed in Nappa leather and Ultrasuede upholstery and decorated with colour-adjustable ambient lighting, with sound pumped through a 20-speaker Yamaha audio system.

The front seats are heated and ventilated with 12-way power adjustment for the driver and eight-way power adjustment for the passenger, while the second-row captain’s chairs are also power adjustable, heated and ventilated and feature pneumatic massage.

The third row also features two seats.

Screens include a 10.25-inch unit ahead of the driver, a 15.4-inch touch display, and a 15.6-inch adjustable central ceiling screen. There are also 3.4-inch touchscreens on the sliding doors.

Zeekr’s first vehicle, the 001, was revealed in concept form in 2020 with Lynk & Co badging – itself a fledgling brand, launched in 2018 – before Geely announced it was forming the new EV brand.

The 001 debuted Geely’s new Sustainable Experience Architecture which also underpins the 009.

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