Zeekr, the premium electric vehicle brand under China’s Geely Automobile Holdings, has confirmed plans to expand into Europe this year.
The company will begin selling its Zeekr 001 luxury shooting brake and Zeekr X urban SUV in Sweden and the Netherlands starting in the fourth quarter of 2023, with plans to expand quickly to other European countries after that, the company said Tuesday at Auto Shanghai 2023.
The news isn’t exactly a surprise, but it is significant given the fact that Zeekr is only two years old. Since launching in 2021, the automaker has sold over 93,000 units, mainly its flagship Zeekr 001, and has added two new vehicles to its lineup — the Zeekr X, which launched in China last week, and the Zeekr 009 minivan.
The 001 and X compete directly with Tesla’s Model Y crossover in an increasingly cutthroat EV market in China. The 001, which can deliver a range of around 375 miles, costs around RMB 300,000 ($44,000). The X has a range of 348 miles and costs around RMB 190,000 ($27,600). Zeekr’s vehicles also include over-the-air software updates.
Part of Zeekr’s success in China has been its direct-to-consumer business model, which the company aims to bring to Europe as well. Tesla popularized D2C sales, which sidestep the traditional model of selling cars through franchised dealerships.
The push into Europe follows Zeekr’s February fundraise of $750 million at a $13 billion valuation. The company has also been aggressively hiring in more than 30 cities around the world, including in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is where Zeekr houses its Global Design Center and European R&D center. In fact, the automaker says its European team is already composed of more than 1,500 engineers and designers.
Zeekr’s European headquarters will be based in Amsterdam, the company said. Spiros Fotinos, who spent over two decades with Toyota and led brand management of Lexus globally, will lead the charge as CEO of Zeekr Europe.
Zeekr has not shared plans to bring its EVs to the U.S., but the company confidentially filed for an IPO in December. Zeekr did not respond in time to TechCrunch’s queries on the status of that IPO.