The Zeekr brand, which is only two years old, is thundering into Europe with confidence. The Zeekr 001 is aimed at the expensive BMW, Tesla and Jaguar. Will that work or will Zeekr - a distant relative of Volvo - be immediately exposed?
It is difficult to keep up with the number of new Chinese brands. Zeekr Just like Volvo, Polestar, Smart, Lotus and Lynk & Co, it belongs to the huge Geely group. But Zeekr's marketers would rather tell you that there is a large R&D center in Gothenburg, Sweden - just around the corner from Volvo - and that Europe has its own design department.
Don't think Zeekr has cold feet; the brand exudes self-confidence. Zeekr fearlessly wants to compete with famous brands such as Porsche, Jaguar and McLaren. Those brands have been around for decades, but Zeekr was only founded two years ago. It stands for - hold on - Zero Emission Krypton. The latter is a chemical element.
Chinese brands do everything faster than we do in Europe. Between the first draft of the Zeekr X - the second model to be launched - and the production model was only available for two years. European brands usually spend at least twice as much. When we ask the CEO of Zeekr in Europe about the purpose from the brand, we don't get an answer that blows our mind. The Chinese are trying with progressive technology: cameras, lidar, ultrasonic sensors.
The Netherlands, together with Sweden, is the first European country where Zeekr is for sale. The 001 is Zeekr's first model and will be available this fall, the X will follow soon. Belgium will probably have to wait until 2026. Like Nio, Zeekr sells its models almost exclusively online. However, the old V&D building in the center of Amsterdam was purchased, a flagship store where you can view all models. We're also betting on trendy plants and a barista with a fashionable mustache who drips oat milk into your coffee. Zeekr opens a test drive and delivery center in Huis ter Heide, near Zeist.
The Zeekr 001 was initially a concept car from Lynk & Co. Brands are often juggled under the Geely wings; the Polestar 2 was actually a Volvo study model. Zeekr's chief designer Stefan Sielaff, who previously designed the Bentley Bentayga, did not have to do anything to the 001. The Zeekr
That Zeekr Porsche has in mind, you can see from the design of the 001. It looks a bit like the Taycan Sport Turismo. But the competition is just one step lower, think of the Tesla Model S and Jaguar iPace. Just as Zeekr also likes to receive people who want to drive a chic electric car from his BMW or Mercedes. The layout of models is Polestar-like: you have long range and standard range and a choice of one or two electric motors. Basic model is the Long Range Single engine (59,490 euros) with rear-wheel drive and a range of 620 km.
The most expensive 001 is the four-wheel drive Privilege (67,490 euros). With this we make our first kilometers, and once again we find that the Chinese build quality is at least as good as the European. Seats and dashboard are finished in Alcantara, à la Cupra, the dashboard is embellished with copper-colored trim parts.
The Zeekr 001 is certainly not only intended to drive itself, but also to let you drive. There is plenty of room in the back. Thanks to the seven-way adjustable backrest of the rear seat, you can experiment with your ideal seating position and in winter the seat heating is your best friend. At the front, the seats in the Prestige also have a massage and cooling function.
What Zeekr does well is make a clear distinction between the Sport and Comfort driving programs. In Comfort mode, the car accelerates more quietly than in the breathy Sport mode. If you choose to hurry, the sprint to 100 km/h is over after 3.8 seconds. Once only super sports cars achieved such values, but electric cars sprint silently and apparently without effort. Even in Sport, the air suspension in combination with the adaptive dampers (standard on Privilege) provides sufficient comfort reserves. The Polestar 4, on the market in early 2024, is on the same platform.
Another big plus, which is strangely often neglected by other brands: the touch screen works well. You don't have to press hard; a small touch is enough. You can then navigate through the menus at lightning speed.
Some charging facts: fast charging is possible on every Zeekr 001 with 200 kWh, a 22 kW AC on-board charger is standard. For our Privilege, Zeekr specifies a range of 580 kilometers.
Chinese brands wholesale in a cumbersome operation. Why do you have to adjust the mirrors by first searching for the correct setting in a menu, after which the adjustment itself has to be done via buttons on the steering wheel? Furthermore, the steering wheel controls in our test car do not work, for example to turn up the radio. We won't accept that, not even from a model that is still being refined before it actually starts driving around in the Netherlands later this year.
Pride, you initially think when you hear about Zeekr's plans to join Porsche. But then we think about Tesla. That gave all European brands a crushing blow on the fingers and is still leading with its electric models and charging infrastructure. Young people already have more interest in Tesla than in Mercedes; the hegemony of traditional brands is crumbling. In ten years' time, young people might dream of a Zeekr.
This post was last modified on September 18, 2023 5:14 am
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