Chinese brands continue expansion

2023 was the year when Chinese electric car makers rushed out of their home country into international markets.  Brands like Nio, BYD and Zeekr were hardly known outside China.  Now, they are in the mix with VW, Toyota and other legacy leaders in an increasing number of countries.

Zeekr, one of these brands, is an upper-end Chinese EV company. It has been making waves with its ambitious plans for expansion. With a strong presence in China and Europe, Zeekr is now setting its sights on penetrating the Middle East market. This strategic move comes as no surprise considering the region’s growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and sustainable transportation solutions.

It is expected that Zeekr will sell around 10,000 cars across four Middle East countries by 2025: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain. They will do this through partnerships with top car dealerships in each country that provide local expertise and market knowledge. By collaborating with local distributors, Zeekr aims to navigate complex regulatory frameworks, establish a strong distribution network, and gain insights into consumer preferences. This approach ensures a smoother entry into the market while leveraging the existing infrastructure of its partners.

The Zeekr 001 is a good-looking mini SUV.

As a subsidiary of Geely Auto Group, one of China’s largest automotive manufacturers, Zeekr has access to vast resources that can support its expansion efforts. Geely’s expertise in manufacturing high-quality vehicles coupled with its extensive supply chain network provides Zeekr with a competitive advantage in terms of production efficiency and cost optimization. By leveraging these resources, Zeekr can offer compelling products to meet the specific needs of Middle Eastern consumers.

Zeekr is known for its cutting-edge technology and innovative designs and aims to position itself as a provider of premium electric vehicles catering to discerning customers. By focusing on luxury and performance-oriented EVs, Zeekr intends to differentiate itself from competitors and appeal to affluent individuals who prioritize both sustainability and prestige. This targeted approach allows Zeekr to tap into a niche segment within the larger EV market while offering unique features that set it apart from other brands.

While countries like China and Europe have witnessed significant growth in EV sales over recent years, the Middle East remains relatively untapped when it comes to electric mobility. This presents an immense opportunity for companies like Zeekr and its compatriot BYD, which are looking to establish themselves as key players in this emerging market. With favorable government policies driving demand and increasing consumer awareness about sustainable transportation options, there is substantial room for growth in this region.

The move to the Middle East may be a key step in the company’s long-term plan, as it seeks to IPO. At a possible $1bn, it would be the largest US listing by a Chinese firm since ride-hailing giant DiDi raised $4.4bn in 2021.

Speaking at the end of 2023 to the Financial Times, Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy AutoForesight, said markets in the Middle East were a good fit for Zeekr cars because “consumers have the spending power” to buy the upper-end EVs.

Zeekr’s interiors are designed to be smart and comfortable.

The Zeekr range includes the mundanely-named, but high-selling, Zeekr 001, Zeekr 009 and Zeekr X models. 

In its top-level trim, the coupe-SUV-like Zeekr 001 comes equipped with a 100 kWh battery capable of delivering 536 horsepower (400kW) and 765 Nm of torque. 

The Zeekr 009 is a striking six-seat MPV with 511 miles of range. It has a 140kWh battery and also produces 536bhp. It’s a powerful, boxy monster of a car.

The Zeekr X on the other hand is an elegant, urban SUV that will definitely not look out of place on the luxe streets of Dubai.

While you may not have heard of Zeekr before, they will soon become a household name in the UAE.

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17 Jan, 2024