Have you heard about a company called Zeekr? If this is absolutely the first time you see its name written, all you need to know about it, for now, is that it is a maker of premium electric vehicles and is owned by Geely, the same firm that also owns Volvo. More importantly, Zeekr, which was founded in 2021, pushes the boundaries when it comes to vehicle design with edgy, extravagant, and modernistic concepts and production vehicles. And it is one of many Chinese brands to do so.
It turns out that this new design trend is seen as a positive development in the industry by Porsche as its head of design, Michael Mauer, recently admitted it changes the game for the generally more conservative legacy automakers from Europe.
“These startups, with no heritage, they can do things completely different,” Mauer told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “I consider it a positive thing actually, as a designer, because that makes the decision-makers — i.e., the management board — more open-minded.”
But what is the goal when it comes to some of Volkswagen’s and Porsche’s iconic nameplates? Obviously, they need to make the transition into the new era of personal mobility where they will compete against new arrivals such as Zeekr, Nio, Li Auto, Xpeng, and other new companies from China. Mauer puts it in a more metaphorical way:
“I always have this image in my head of this stone that you throw into the future. The question is, how far do I throw it? Hitting that sweet spot exactly, going far enough into the future, but not too far, is a real challenge.”
Gallery: 2023 Zeekr X launch event in China
Despite the fact that the Chinese market is getting more and more challenging with these new local EVs, Porsche enjoys strong results in the country. During the first six months of the year, the Stuttgart-based firm delivered 43,832 vehicles in the People’s Republic representing an increase of 8 percent year-on-year. The Taycan, Porsche’s only electric model on sale today, saw an increase of 46 percent compared to the first half of 2022. In fact, China is currently Porsche's single largest new car market in the world.