Zeekr, an electric vehicle brand owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu’s Geely Holding Group, announced on Monday that it had raised $750 million from investors, including Chinese billionaire Robin Zeng’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), the world’s largest automaker. world’s largest EV battery pack in production capacity.
Participating in the funding round are Israeli billionaire Amnon Shashua, co-founder and CEO of autonomous vehicle technology company Mobileye – acquired by software giant Intel in 2017 – and the Yuexiu Industrial Fund, the investment arm of the Guangzhou municipal government. The round valued the company, based in the coastal city of Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, at US$13 billion.
The funding is “a vote of confidence in Zeekr’s strong future and growth prospects,” Daniel Donghui Li, CEO of Hangzhou-based Geely Holding Group, said in a statement. “Geely Holding will continue to explore ways to add value to our portfolio as we pioneer new mobility services and solutions to meet customer demand around the world.”
The new capital will go towards building a global sales network and enhancing its research and development into proprietary technologies, said Zeekr, launched by Geely in 2021. With AI-powered tools such as an “anti-skid” steering system and a voice-activated car control assistant, the company’s flagship model, Zeekr 001, can travel 641 miles on a single charge. By comparison, Tesla’s longest-range Model S clocks in at 396 miles.
Zeekr sold more than 70,000 cars last year, mostly in mainland China, and aims to tap into demand in Europe, the world’s second-biggest EV market after China. In December, the company confidentially filed a US IPO, according to Reuters. Zeekr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to Zeekr, Geely has collaborated with other manufacturers to produce EVs. In 2021, it formed a joint venture with Taiwanese billionaire Terry Gou’s Foxconn – best known as the maker of Apple’s iPhones – to provide contract manufacturing for electric vehicle assemblers. Last July, it collaborated with Chinese internet giant Baidu to unveil its first fully autonomous electric vehicle, which does not include a steering wheel.
More broadly, domestic EV brands benefit from an ongoing national push towards green mobility. In 2022, business in China’s EV sector reached $5.95 billion, according to data from research firm Preqin. That year, electric vehicle maker BYD, owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Chuanfu, overtook Tesla as the world’s biggest seller of electric vehicles. Despite ending subsidies to electric vehicle buyers in January, Beijing has reaffirmed its ambition to transition to “clean” transport or electric and hybrid cars by 2035.