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In October last year, at a special ceremony in ZEEKR’s Intelligent Factory in Ningbo, China, the first production-ready ZEEKR 001 rolled off the production line for the world to see.

However, ZEEKR isn’t just another brand in Geely’s expansive portfolio, which includes Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus.

Speaking to Auto Futures, a company spokesperson says: “Although ZEEKR shares the group’s leading Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), it develops its own battery technologies, battery management systems, electric motor technologies, and electric vehicle supply chain support. All of these developments are shared within the group and ZEEKR plays a key role in the refinement of technology in the building of premium state-of-the-art electric vehicles.”

ZEEKR is focused on creating an ecosystem covering all end-user requirements, with innovation as the standard approach in terms of sales and servicing. In the works at the moment is the functionality to provide Over-the-Air (OTA) updates to further improve the ZEEKR Assisted Drive (ZAD) system, where the car will keep updating to adapt to the newest software technologies and give users the best mobility experience in the future.

This is an intelligent vehicle in its truest form and the company is all set to explore new avenues for its innovative direct to consumer approach.

Ever since its unveiling in April 2021, just before the Shanghai Auto Show, there was a lot of excitement in China regarding the ZEEKR 001.

“As of February 2022 and less than a year after ZEEKR revealed its all-electric 001 model at the Shanghai Auto Show and less than four months after production started at the all-new Intelligent Factory, we have already delivered 10,000 units to customers in more than 150 cities across China. Capacity at the ZEEKR Intelligent Factory, one of the world’s most advanced vehicle facilities, is now ramping up to accommodate the unprecedented demand for the 001. We will continue to prioritise local market customers in China as production and deliveries accelerate ahead of its planned global roll-out from 2023,” says the spokesperson.

Zeekr 001 City

ZEEKR 001 can create 400 kW of power and 768 Nm of torque through a twin motor system. That makes it capable of reaching 100 kph in just 3.8 seconds. It has been built on Geely Holding Group’s Sustainable Electric Architecture (SEA), itself a result of technology-sharing among the groups’ various brands.

Geely has always maintained that sharing of developments among its various brands is essential and ensures that all its products benefit from the most advanced leading technology. With ZEEKR 001, we can see some of the benefits of that collaboration.

An Intelligent Factory for an Intelligent Car

Geely’s ZEEKR Intelligent Factory, based in Ningbo, around 100 miles south of Shanghai, boasts of being one of the most advanced vehicle facilities created to date thanks to a 5G+ system that allows for agile and transparent production management.

In practice, that means functions such as welding are completely automated, with more than 300 robots carrying out the work with limited human intervention. The 5G+ system ensures that production is planned, tracked, and checked in a fully transparent manner.

If required, the factory also corrects itself. The production process set by ZEEKR allows for continuous self-optimisation. The welding production line, for example, adopts monitoring systems such as glue application visual guidance, to continually improve the welding process.

Working Together

ZEEKR recently announced a couple of collaborations with self-driving companies Waymo and Mobileye.

“We are collaborating with Waymo on the development of a new pure electric commercial vehicle for deployment in the Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing fleet in the United States,” explained Geely’s spokesperson.

“Under this collaboration, ZEEKR will be designing and developing the future vehicle on a new proprietary and open-source mobility architecture. The new purpose-built mobility vehicle is being designed and developed at ZEEKR’s R&D facility, CEVT (China Europe Vehicle Technology Centre) in Gothenburg, Sweden. Waymo will take delivery of the vehicles in the United States and will then integrate its fully autonomous Waymo Driver into the vehicle platform. With Mobileye the partnership explores the expansion of the strategic goal to deliver the world’s first consumer autonomous vehicles with L4 capabilities by 2024 and this will include the development of advanced ADAS in addition to collaborating with technologies including REM, Mobileye’s mapping technology.

Zeekr 001 Charging

“ZEEKR is an all-new, future-focused brand. The future of mobility is an exciting one, not only are we fully focused on providing excellent premium all-electric mobility products to market for customers today, but we are extremely excited by the prospects of future mobility tomorrow, as shown through our collaborations with both Waymo and Mobileye, it is clear that the future of mobility is one where the riders come first, and the comfort of the journey is paramount in a world of increasing autonomous technology.”

For any company that manufactures EVs, range anxiety is one roadblock that they absolutely must tackle head-on for the sake of the consumer. ZEEKR is no different.

The company’s 100kWh Z-Battery can charge from 10% to 80% within 30 minutes and has a 712 km range, according to the NEDC cycle used in China. ZEEKR customers will be able to experience the company’s own charging stations in most of the country’s major cities.

Its plan was to open ultrafast 360 kW charging stations in 10 cities by the end of last year. Moreover, ZEEKR has also included third-party charging points in 211 cities to provide a hassle-free and seamless charging experience for all its users, so that its customers can have peace of mind and comfort in knowing that the product itself has an exceptional range and there is a dedicated network in place to support drivers across China.

After the ZEEKR 001, the company has plans to introduce six different models to the market in the next five years. And that’s not all. ZEEKR will continue to push ahead with its phased ramp-up of production in China before introducing the 001 to European markets next year. Previous announcements also indicate that North America is next on the list.

It’ll be interesting to see how the world takes to the car that China has welcomed with open arms.

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