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.
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.
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.
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.