News: Exclusive: Targeting Tesla, China’s Geely to launch new premium EV brand – sources.
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Geely plans to launch electric vehicles under a new brand with different branding and sales strategies, as those familiar with the matter said, as the Volvo owner seeks to defeat its main competitor Tesla with quality vehicles.
The brand, which is positioned in the premium segment and bears the name “Zeekr”, will be placed under Geely’s future EV company Lingling Technologies as the plan is not yet public, according to three people who refused to be named. Reuters reported on the plans for Lingling last month.
Geely, owner of Volvo Cars and 9.7% of Daimler AG, will launch models under the new brand based on its open source EV chassis, which it announced in September, called Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA).
It will be a fresh attempt at Geely’s launch, and it supports founder and chairman Li Shufu’s long-standing ambition to make premium cars “like Mercedes-Benz” in order to take over EV leader Tesla Inc. .
Geely will open showrooms or “hubs” in city centers to sell cars at a fixed price, deviating from tradition to sell cars through dealers – a marketing tactic developed by Tesla that is selling in China , the largest car in the world, market rapidly grew over the past year.
The plan follows a series of mergers by Geely earlier this year as the automaker pursues its goal of becoming a leading electric vehicle manufacturer and engineering service provider.
China’s automakers largely compete with entry-level and mass-market manufacturers like Volkswagen and Toyota, but EV maker Nio Inc sells higher-priced cars and rivals BMW.
Hangzhou-based Geely is also planning a wide range of sales and marketing strategies to build closer relationships with EV buyers. It will open lifestyle lines for clothing and accessories and open a club for car owners, a tactic used by Nio.
Zeekr is also considering introducing a stock ownership plan that would allow customers to become shareholders of Lingling. Management hopes to increase sales and the relationship between brand and customer.
Geely declined to comment.
Many conventional automakers have used a new brand to bring their EV units to market. Geely’s competitors, including Great Wall and SAIC Motor, have launched their respective new standalone EV brands.
China’s government has heavily promoted new energy vehicles (NEVs) like battery-powered, plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids and hydrogen-fuel cell cars in response to chronic air pollution and a warming climate, and has piqued interest from tech companies and investors alike.
China predicts NEVs will account for 20% of annual car sales by 2025, up from around 5% in 2020.
Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; Editing by Shri Navaratnam
Original Source © Reuters