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Visitors check out a Zeekr 001 at Zeekr’s factory in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China on April 15, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Chinese EV maker Zeekr, owned by Geely, secures US$750 million in funding from CATL, Mobileye Global founder

  • Zeekr, which has two new cars slated for introduction this year, aims to use the funding to support technology research and global expansion
  • Investors in the funding round include government-linked funds and Amnon Shashua, CEO and founder of Mobileye Global
Zeekr, a premium electric-vehicle (EV) brand under Chinese carmaker Geely, is raising US$750 million from a clutch of investors including Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) as Zeekr and its peers race to catch up with Tesla in the world’s largest EV market.

Zeekr’s parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said in a statement on Monday that proceeds from the funding round will be used to support technology research and the global expansion of the Zeekr brand.

In addition to CATL, which is already a backer of Zeekr, investors in the funding round include the Guangzhou municipal government’s investment arm Yuexiu Industrial Fund, Tongshang Fund, Xin’an Intelligent Manufacturing Fund and Amnon Shashua, CEO and founder of Mobileye Global, a provider of autonomous-driving technology that is majority-owned by US chip maker Intel.

“The successful signing of the second external funding round represents a significant vote of confidence as Zeekr develops proprietary technologies built around safety, sustainability, user-experience, and new mobility services,” the company said in an announcement.

The office building of Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) is pictured on August 8, 2018, in Ningde, Fujian province of China. Photo: Getty Images
Zeekr landed its first external funding totalling US$500 million in August 2021, with investors Intel, CATL, online entertainment firm Bilibili, mining investor Cathay Fortune Corporation and private-equity firm Boyu Capital.

“It is a good timing window to raise money, as the market sentiment is boosted by China reopening,” said Phate Zhang, founder of Shanghai-based EV news site CnEVpost. “We see more EV companies making similar moves.”

Founded in March 2021, Zeekr aims to push Geely into the high-end electric-car segment, challenging an area dominated by Tesla and leading Chinese EV start-ups, including Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto.

Tesla raises mainland China price of Model Y’s basic version by just US$294

The company launched its first car, the four-door Zeekr 001, in October 2021. The vehicle has a driving range of 700km and is priced at 281,000 yuan (US$41,380) – higher than the Shanghai-made Tesla Model 3’s starting price of 229,900 yuan.

Last year, Zeekr delivered 71,941 cars, with over 10,000 units delivered per month in the fourth quarter.

In comparison, Tesla, the distant front-runner in the mainland’s premium EV segment, delivers some 50,000 units per month.

Geely aims to deliver 10,000 EVs a month, taking on Tesla, domestic rivals

Xpeng, Nio and Li Auto are snapping at Tesla’s heels as a combined force, each normally posting monthly deliveries of more than 10,000 units.

Deliveries of the Zeekr 009, a multipurpose vehicle (MPV), started last month, and later this year Zeekr plans to launch two new models including Zeekr X, a premium urban SUV.

“For EV companies, particularly new ones, financing demand will be quite large this year, as we are seeing more fierce competition and tasks to keep launching new models,” Zhang said.