The first production-ready Zeekr 001 from Geely’s cool new mass-market brand Zeekr has rolled off the factory floor, the company announced on Wednesday.
First unveiled at April’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Zeekr 001 is aimed at a new generation of drivers with a subscription model and and the company is daring to take on the likes of Tesla, which in China has recorded massive leaps in sales over past months as its Shanghai factory turns away from export markets and back to domestic sales, in its sights.
Geely’s latest EV startup (Volvo’s Polestar is also part of its stable) has positioned itself as the “world’s most advanced vehicle factory” that boasts 300 robots overseen by a 5G system that can track aspects of the production process from welding to glue application.
The company says its production line can be operated with limited human intervention, can “self-inspect” the results of its work with ultrasonic sensors and then adapt its welding patterns automatically to improve the results.
Whether it can pump out a new EV body every 45 seconds as can Tesla’s giant “Giga Press” casting machines as claimed by Elon Musk is another thing. Time will tell.
At the very least, the Zeekr 001 sounds like an interesting addition to the extremely competitive Chinese EV market, where local auto giants like BYD and SAIC jostle for sales against nimble and innovative startups like Nio and Xpeng.
According to Zeekr’s website, the 001 is offered in three variants, with driving ranges of up to 712km (although this is NEDC so expect more like 500km in real world conditions).
There is a single 200kW/384Nm motor variant with 100kWh battery, plus two dual-motor variants both deliver 400kW power output and 768Nm torque with either a 86kWh or 100kWh battery.
While the single-motor variants gets the longest range it is also limited in its acceleration, sprinting to 100km/hr in 6.9 seconds. The dual motor variants both complete the 100km/hr sprint in 3.8 seconds.
All models get a heat pump, double-ball suspension on the front and multi-link integrated suspension on the back, with the range-topping dual motor variant getting a high performance air suspension kit.
Advanced driving modes including Snow, Sand and Off-Road are included with all variants, on top of the standard, comfort, custom, sports and eco modes.
A number of wheel options are available from the 19 inch five spoke light alloys, to three 21 inch options (air vortex, phantoms or multi-spoke rays) to 22 inch energy light blades (which you’ve got to admit sound pretty attractive).
High-end CN95 air filters with a PM2.5 detection filter system, wireless smartphone charging and 5G enabled intelligent assistant and face ID, as well as over-the-air software upgrades are all standard.
A central 15.4 inch touchscreen joins a smaller 5.4 inch screen behind the steering wheel, while a generous 14.7 heads up display keeps the driver posted on trip details.
Zeekr says it will offer the 001 to drivers via a subscription service, which will allow early adopters and government or business fleets access to a high-end valet service including vehicle drop offs.
While Geely’s other electric brand, Polestar, is set to launch in Australia imminently, don’t expect to Zeekr here any time soon. While it has previously said it will expand to certain “key markets” at some point in the future, for now it is focussing on its homeground, China, where it is opening 360kW super charging stations in 10 Chinese cities by year’s end.
First deliveries of the Zeekr 001 to customer will commence in late October.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.