Driving electric vehicle adoption

In a Stunning U.S. Market Debut, Chinese EV Maker Zeekr Rockets Up Nearly 35%

Zeekr has been described as one of the most innovative, exciting and fast-growing Chinese battery electric vehicle (BEV) companies. Its recent U.S. market debut was extraordinary. 

According to Reuters, Zeekr’s shares rose almost 35% above their initial public offering price on May 10. It was the first major U.S. market debut by a China-based company since 2021.

On May 10, Zeekr Intelligent Technology Holding Limited announced the pricing of its initial public offering (IPO) of 21,000,000 American Depositary Shares, each representing 10 ordinary shares, at $21 each. The current stock price, at the time of this writing, was $27.18.

Zeekr Is the Premium Brand of Chinese Automaker Geely

According to its IPO filing, Zeekr has delivered nearly 200,000 cars, mostly in China. Its current lineup includes:

  • Zeekr 001, a five-seater, crossover hatchback
  • Zeekr 001 FR, its latest crossover hatchback
  • Zeekr 009, a luxury six-seater MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle)
  • Zeekr X, a compact SUV
  • Zeekr 007, an upscale sedan
  • Zeekr Mix, a compact MPV

The name of the brand is made up of the letter “Z” from “Generation Z” and the slang term “geek,” in recognition of the growing influence of young EV buyers in China. Zeekr’s vehicles are built on the EV-focused Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform.

Zeekr was founded in 2021 as a premium BEV brand by the Geely Group to compete against Nio and Tesla, among others. The company is relatively new, as evidence of how quickly new EV production can currently proliferate in China.

Its first model, the Zeekr 001, was launched in April 2021. Its 2023 Series A funding round of $750 million was led by Chinese EV battery giant CATL, among others.

Zeekr 001 WE Version Features a Record-Setting Range with 140 kWh CATL Qilin batteries

In May 2023, Zeekr announced the official delivery of the Zeekr 001 WE version. This model is equipped with 140 kWh CATL Qilin batteries. At the time, the car set new range records with an impressive CLTC range of 1032 km (641 miles) on one charge.

The stated 1,032 km range is calculated on the China Light-Duty Vehicles Test Cycle (CLTC), which is not generally considered representative of its actual real-world range. CLTC is believed by most experts to be less accurate than the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle used in Europe.

Zeekr Partnered With Waymo on Robotaxis

Zeekr developed Waymo’s autonomous robotaxi and unveiled it in 2022. Waymo is an autonomous driving technology company. It is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google.

Tesla recently announced interest in moving into the robotaxi market; however, most analysts believe robotaxis are still many years away from profitability.

Zeekr’s Announcement Came Along With New 100% Chinese EV Tariffs in the U.S.

On May 14, President Biden’s declaration of imposing a 100% tariff on Chinese-made electric vehicles marked a significant escalation in the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China. The administration described this strategy as safeguarding U.S. manufacturers from the influx of inexpensive imports. It encompasses a rigorous set of restrictions on Chinese goods valued at $18 billion.

The move, which emerged after a comprehensive four-year review, is perceived as a protective measure intended to prevent the U.S. market from being overwhelmed by subsidized Chinese products. This decision seeks to bolster the domestic green technology sector. It also signals a critical juncture in the economic rivalry between the world’s two largest economies, potentially impacting global trade dynamics and the global electric vehicle industry at large.

It’s not yet clear what effect the 100% tariff will have on Zeekr and other Chinese EV companies. Lotus, Polestar, and Volvo are the only companies that currently ship vehicles made in China into the U.S. Of those brands, only Polestar imports a Chinese-made EV to the U.S. Lotus recently started shipping its luxury EV from China to the U.S. in limited quantities.

If Zeekr and other Chinese EVs make it to the U.S. market with their lower prices, high quality and superior UX technology, Tesla and others will have a hard time competing. In a comparison between Tesla and Chinese EVs, Tesla did not fare well.