ZEEKR X: The culmination of "3", breaking the limits of "3".

Author: Rezz

Recently, it has been a tough month for the Zeekr brand, and some Zeekr car owners have also had a difficult time during the Spring Festival.

On the first day of the new year, Zeekr Motors officially released the all-new upgraded 2023 Zeekr 001 model. The leather interior, air conditioning package, and massage comfort package that were previously only available as optional add-ons for the 2022 ME version are now included as standard features across the entire 2023 lineup, which has also caused disappointment for many loyal car owners (most of whom took delivery just two months ago). One Zeekr car owner said: “The group chat for old car owners exploded that day, and there were more discussions on that day than the entire previous month.”

This kind of complaint and dissatisfaction with product upgrades has also been reflected in sales data for January. Zeekr Motors delivered only 3116 cars, a 12% decrease from the same period last year and a 72.5% decrease from the previous month’s 11336 cars. Of course, the official explanation is simple: the Zeekr intelligent factory underwent a 21-day upgrade before and after the Spring Festival, and it resumed production on February 1st. As January’s sales figures fluctuate, everyone is looking forward to what Zeekr has in store next.

Perhaps to cheer up Zeekr’s fans and car owners who support the brand, Zeekr Motors has released a series of spy shots of the disguised exterior of the planned Zeekr 003 model over the past few days. Just two days later, on February 3rd, Zeekr Motors officially announced the name and official images of this new model. It is called the Zeekr ZEEKR X.

This move was timed well to generate buzz. As part of the typical naming convention for a car series, “X” is used to differentiate between sedans and SUVs, for example, in the case of BMW. This time, Zeekr Motors defied expectations by naming its third car as “X” instead of “3”.

The Zeekr Motors team realizes that “3” is a number that represents pure driving pleasure, individuality, and intelligent pioneering in the automotive industry. BMW 3 Series is a benchmark that represents pure driving pleasure, while Lynk & Co 03+ and Audi Q3 represent individuality, and the Tesla Model 3 represents intelligent pioneering.

As the third car of ZEEKR, it embodies the essence of three and breaks through the limitations of the previous “3”. Its mission is to be stronger than the previous “3”. To overcome the pressure of these three major obstacles, ZEEKR did not continue to name its third car after numbers in the family, instead it named it X, which represents infinite exploration, endless imagination, and endless surpassing, as well as an unknown variable.

ZEEKR will also be listed independently in the United States this year. As the brand’s most important new car of the year, whether the ZEEKR X is a good car, whether it can open up a new battlefield for ZEEKR, and whether it can bear the responsibility of leading ZEEKR’s capital market listing.

Obsessive Exterior Design

The exterior of the ZEEKR X was designed by Stefan Sielaff, the former head of design at Bentley, and a Nordic design team. So, you can feel many elements that are consistent with European urban commuter cars, like a “popular version” of a pole star.

First of all, the position of the charging port. The slow charging port of 001 and 009 are located on the front left side of the vehicle, while the fast charging port is on the rear. However, we can clearly see from the side that there is no charging port cover plate on the front left of the ZEEKR X, and there is also an obvious cover plate area on the left rear, which is larger in size.

Therefore, if things go as expected, the ZEEKR X’s fast and slow charging are integrated, and the charging cover plate is hidden, almost obsessively clean and neat.

Regarding the front driving assistance camera, from the enlarged pictures, the ZEEKR X’s front driving assistance camera may only have one, while 001 and 009 have two.

As for the car lights, ZEEKR has finally abandoned the prominent headlight design of the Lynk&Co series and adopted a smoother and more advanced Y-shaped headlight, which is closer to Porsche’s frog face, each composed of 41 luminous units. At the same time, the decorative components, headlights, and lower bumpers on both sides of the front face are all painted in black, giving a sporty impression.

The ZEEKR X will adopt the same frameless rearview mirror as the pole star 2, which will be visually high-end and simple, and the actual experience will be better than most of the rearview mirrors currently in use, with a wider range of vision.In terms of the car doors, ZEEKR X will adopt frameless doors, as seen from the picture, there is no switch structure design on the B-pillar, which will definitely be included in traditional car doors. Since it is not present, it indicates that the ZEEKR X will be designed with a frameless door and all door handles will be eliminated. This means that the electronic switch door of Zeekr 001 will most likely be used.

Moving to the side of the car body, the line where the C-pillar meets the taillight is complex. The side skirts, wheel arches, roof, and ABC-pillars are all black decorations, creating a distinct contrast to the body, which gives a more layered look. Due to design limitations, the second-row windows are expected to have a small glass area, but they are equipped with privacy glass, which protects the privacy and safety of passengers in the back row. On this point, Zeekr has considered it very carefully, continuing the luxury of the brand’s lineage, even if the size is only in the A-class.

The frameless rearview mirror, the sharp lines of the car body, and the hood of the car show the shadow of Polestar, but this car definitely contains many Chinese-specific thoughts. Whether it is the previous Polo, Fit, or the current smart Fortwo, they all represent the understanding of European or Japanese people of urban life in China. However, Chinese people now live in a society that is highly intelligent and personalized, and the differences from foreign countries are becoming more and more obvious. Therefore, the Chinese team of Zeekr ZEEKR X will have more localized thinking.

The official positioning of Zeekr ZEEKR X is a new luxurious all-round SUV, but in fact, it is the size of a compact SUV, 4450/1836/1572mm, with a wheelbase of 2750mm, which is exactly the same as the same platform smart Fortwo #1. However, the acceleration is said to be able to reach the 3-second level, which reminds me of the small steel guns that can be found in independent brands, like SAIC Roewe MULAN, which has a top configuration of 3.8s, and a price range of around 190,000 RMB.

Spacious Magician with Minimalistic Interior

First, let’s talk about the steering wheel. The ZEEKR X of Geek+ Kekai adopts a brand new steering wheel, and the multifunctional buttons on the steering wheel also feature a fresh design that looks very refined.

The spy shots of ZEEKR X (source visible in watermark)

The instrument panel has a narrow widescreen layout. From the spy shots, the instrument panel should be connected to the steering column, so it can be adjusted up and down with the adjustment of the steering wheel. Compared to a traditional instrument panel, this design will be more practical.

Compared with the conventional shifting mechanism of Geek+ 001 and Geek+ 009, the ZEEKR X of Geek+ Kekai uses a shift lever design, saving more space inside the car. After enlarging the details of the spy shots, it can be seen that the opening of the advanced driving assistance function is also done through the right-hand lever, which is more convenient than Geek+ 001 and Geek+ 009.

Geek+ Kekai claims that this car is a versatile magician for space and has an appearance and internal layout similar to the Honda LIFE space magician. The middle aisle of the front row is open, which makes it easier for front passengers to get in and out from either side. Moreover, the front passenger seat can be equipped with the “queen seat” with an electric footrest. It is said that the rear seats can also be completely folded flat, expanding more space.

In terms of advanced driving assistance, the ZEEKR X of Geek+ Kekai does not carry Mobileye’s SuperVision™ technology, but uses the Mobile Eye Q5 chip, a front-facing camera, a long-range millimeter-wave radar, and six ultrasonic radars. The rear is the same as the front, which is a more mature ADAS package solution.## Power matching with smart Brabus

The ZEEKR X, by Jidu Auto, will provide both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models, with a respective power output of 200 kW and 315 kW. This is the same as the performance version of the smart Fortwo Brabus and the top-of-the-line MG Mulan. The zero to one-hundred acceleration should be around 3.7 to 3.9 seconds.

In terms of range, as a model positioned the same as the smart Fortwo, the capacity of the Fortwo’s battery pack is 66 kWh, providing three ranges of 535km, 560km, and 500km.

From the dimensions of the ZEEKR X, it is speculated that it can accommodate only a battery pack of about 70 kWh. Any larger would not fit. As for the cost, it is unlikely that the ZEEKR X will have an exclusive battery pack like the BYD E-Platform 1 (model 001). Therefore, it is likely to share the 66 kWh battery pack with the smart Fortwo. The range should be similar, probably in the range of 500 km to 600 km. As a compact urban SUV, this range is already adequate for daily commuting.

To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

As for the price that most concerns the consumers, Yang Xueliang, senior vice president of Geely Group, has revealed on Weibo that “there will be no products below CNY 200,000”.

Let’s summarise: Geely introduced the Lynk & Co brand to compete with BYD in the high-end and differentiated market. Lynk & Co then introduced ZEEKR, a high-end pure electric vehicle brand. Even the BYD Qin Plus, a champion in sales volume, sells for CNY 140,000 to CNY 170,000. Therefore, ZEEKR X, a vehicle that is two levels higher than the BYD Qin Plus, will definitely not be sold at the same price as the Qin Plus, and even selling at a slightly higher price than the smart Fortwo is understandable.

It should be noted that the smart Fortwo Brabus, which started at CNY 170,000 when it first hit the market, has subsequently increased to CNY 190,000. The Brabus performance version is also sold for nearly CNY 280,000. This tiny steel cannon has already reached the price of the basic configuration of the ZEEKR 001.As the most “geek” brand in the new energy new forces, ZEEKR has always had high configuration, and of course the price has never been lowered. The average order amount of the first car, ZEEKR 001, was 336,000 yuan, while the second car was called “the best MPV ever in history” by CEO An Conghui, selling for 588,000 yuan, which is not too much, right? Even if everyone is waiting for ZEEKR to release a slightly cheaper car, it is unlikely that ZEEKR X, which is priced at around 200,000 yuan, will be lowered.

The advent of ZEEKR X can be regarded as a breakthrough and subversion. It is likely to be the most comprehensively configured and strongest performing small-sized SUV that you can find in the next one or two years. Compared with its sibling, the smart Elf #1, ZEEKR X will have stronger driving assistance capabilities and richer configuration.

In addition, it is said that the car’s machine and space will also be highlights. Regardless of other factors, ZEEKR X is definitely a strong competitor in the segmented market of compact SUVs. The decisive factor that determines whether it can become a hot-selling model is the price, which is likely to be between 200,000 and 260,000 yuan. After all, no matter how exquisite it is, it is only a compact SUV. It is impossible to be more expensive than ZEEKR 001 and Audi Q4 E-Tron, both priced at 300,000 yuan. If the top configuration is lowered a bit more, I think ZEEKR X has unlimited potential. But if the price is too high and Tesla’s Model Q enters the market below 200,000 yuan, ZEEKR may be very likely to fail.

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.