ZEEKR's Main Mission Is to Detach From Lynk & Co, and ZEEKR X Represents the First Step

You may have only heard about ZEEKR due to the 001. Until recently, it was also the only car this Geely brand said it would sell abroad, but that changed when the X emerged. Not Elon Musk's definition for Twitter, mind you, but the ZEEKR X, a C-segment SUV that is already for sale online in Sweden and the Netherlands. Deliveries will start when the first units leave the roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) cargo ship that is bringing them from China. Despite that, Lynk & Co's influence is still evident. Apart from introducing itself to new customers, ZEEKR's main challenge is to leave that behind.
Lynk & Co and ZEEKR are still too connected when it comes to brand identity 40 photos
Photo: Geely/edited by autoevolution
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The ZEEKR 001 made its premiere as the Lynk & Co Zero Concept in September 2020 at the Beijing Auto Show. After a bit more than three years, it is still not clear why Geely decided to take the Zero Concept and turn it into the first vehicle of a new brand when Lynk & Co was – and still is – trying to establish itself.

According to the executives I chatted with at the European ZEEKR X presentation, the new brand will not kill the previous one. They will now follow different paths, which will soon include a new logo for the rookie brand. If you compare them, you'll see ZEEKR's symbol is the same one that Lynk & Co vehicles present. In a way, it is surprising that Geely allowed that to happen: a new brand already connected to another one because of its first car should not have the same symbol to identify it unless nobody cares if they are mistaken for each other.

Another possibility is that Geely will use them to enter different markets. If that were the case, it would be just a matter of badge-engineering the cars for each country, but that is not the case. Lynk & Co sells in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. These are countries that will also have ZEEKR Experience Centers, with the first ones opening in Stockholm and Amsterdam soon. I am not aware of plans to expand Lynk & Co operations beyond these countries in which the only car for sale is the 01.

Lynk and Co's Chinese website exhibits all its lineup
Photo: Lynk and Co
In China, Lynk & Co has an extensive lineup. Apart from the 01, it has the 02, 03, 05, 06, 08 and 09. ZEEKR is also sold at Geely's home market, but the world's largest has plenty of space for everyone. The main difference between these brands is that ZEEKR only sells battery electric vehicles (BEVs), while Lynk & Co sells plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). In Europe, Lynk & Co also tried to establish a mobility service, something ZEEKR is not pursuing: it is all about selling cars, even if only online, like Tesla does.

Why did Geely decide to expand ZEEKR internationally without making sure it had an identity of its own, especially in countries where Lynk & Co was already present? The ZEEKR X looked like the first step toward that goal. Although the logo is still the same, I was assured that this will not stand for long.

Check the daytime running lights (DRLs), and you'll see that the design team already made changes to what you'll find in the 001. Do not confuse them for the headlights, which are in the black portion of the front bumpers. The X's DRLs are a stylized version of what those in the 001 were. However, you just have to check a picture of the Lynk & Co 08 to see it presents DRLs that also seem to be the stylized version of the brand's former DRLs.

ZEEKR X's DRLs compared to the Lynk and Co 08's components
Photo: Geely/edited by autoevolution
Tony Baho has been ZEEKR's chief designer for Color, Materials, Finish (CMF) since March 2023, but he has worked for Geely since May 2011. When I asked him about the challenge of creating a new brand identity for the premium brand, he said it was creatively stimulating. After all, it would probably be easier to just conceive that from scratch – without a vehicle such as the 001 to dictate how the brand or its cars should look. Each brand has its own design team.

That's great, but why do the ZEEKR X and the Lynk & Co 08 present similar DRLs? And the same logo? When I talked to Baho, I was not aware of that yet, but he told me that the design teams were independent. Considering he has recently joined ZEEKR, we should only see the first results in new products – around three years from now. Baho was particularly proud of the roof liner in the new SUV. If you take a quick look at it, it seems to be made of Alcantara, but it is actually microfiber. The texture is also pretty similar to that of the premium material. The designer said that this effort helped make a more premium experience accessible to more customers.

The work that he and his colleagues at ZEEKR developed resulted in a C-segment SUV that is much larger than the Volvo EX30. If you thought they were the same car with different styles – like I did – you'll be surprised to learn the ZEEKR X has a much longer wheelbase. While the EX30's is 2.65 meters (104.3 inches), the X's is 2.75 m (108.3 in). If we are to compare it to any other Geely vehicle using the Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), it would be the smart #3, which is 4.40 m (173.2 in) long and has a 2.79 m (109.8 in) wheelbase. By the way, the ZEEKR X is 4.43 m long (174.4 in), 1.84 m (72.4 in) wide, and 1.57 m (61.8 in) tall.

How the ZEEKR X compares to the competitors
Photo: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
The common aspects between all these Geely vehicles relate to the motors. The ZEEKR X Long Range RWD delivers 200 kW (268 hp), and the Privilege AWD comes with 315 kW (422 hp). These are the same numbers presented by the little Volvo SUV, smart #1, and smart #3. It is reasonable to expect that any Geely product based on the SEA and in the B- and C-segments will have the same electric motors.

It is more than predictable that these vehicles share several other components, but people only know that once they check the technical specifications or dismantle them. With ZEEKR and Lynk & Co, the similarities are way more visible. ZEEKR has other challenges to face.

The company's name is Ji Ke (you read Jee Keh) in China, which means "geek." That reflects the company's focus on software and gadgets, but that name will sound a lot like "zika" in Latin American countries where it wants to expand. Some of them are facing issues with the Zika virus, transmitted by a mosquito. In Brazil, "zica" means bad luck or problem. I already warned the marketing executives I met at the event about that, but I wonder what they can do to fix that.

These are the ZEEKR X's prices
Photo: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
In Europe, the ZEEKR X will cost €44,990 ($47,192 at the current exchange rate) in its Long Range RWD entry-level derivative and €49,490 ($51,913) in the Privilege AWD trim. I'll soon be able to share more details about how it drives and what it offers to those willing to discover firsthand what ZEEKR is. What I do not have is an answer for how Geely will set its two brands apart from each other. The Chinese giant is obviously putting much more effort into its BEV brand than in its PHEV division. That may prove decisive to clarify things.
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Editor's note: ZEEKR invited the journalist to travel to Sweden and cover the ZEEKR X European presentation. The automaker covered all expenses.

About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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