The Chinese company Geely Holding became famous in Europe with its acquisition of Volvo in 2010. In Poland, the company also became famous thanks to the announced cooperation with Izera – the Polish electric car from Electromobility Poland uses the platform developed by the Chinese. Today it is one of the largest producers of electric vehicles (after Tesla, Volkswagen and local competitor BYD). In 2022, it has sold 1.43 million vehicles, of which more than 328,000 vehicles are powered by this engine.
In the new plans of the Chinese businessman, Europe is becoming more important. Not just because of Volvo. Geely recently announced that Zeekr, which has just started pre-sales of two of its models in Sweden and the Netherlands, will be entering the Old Continent.
It doesn’t end there. Speaking in response to Business Insider’s questions during a press briefing in Hangzhou, Ashley Sutcliffe, global head of PR at Geely Holding, spoke about development plans in Europe.
– We continue to expand. Our most important European companies, such as Volvo Cars, plan to sell approximately 700,000 cars this year. Fifty thousand cars. over a year ago. Our Chinese brands will also enter Europe. For a male, the most important thing was to consolidate her position in the ancient continent. These are markets such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and many other countries. We hope Poland will do the same, he said.
Why do the Chinese care so much about their presence in the ancient continent? Sutcliffe admits it’s a market that’s significantly more lucrative than most. And the green transition in transportation is an opportunity to build your position on it.
Break bad concepts
So far, Chinese cars have not been well received in Europe – mainly due to low quality and not meeting the expectations of the people of the old continent. So why is my generation succeeding this time? The Chinese manufacturer assures that it now knows how to stay ahead of the competition. “We know that many car brands and car groups in Europe feel very threatened by cheaper Chinese brands that have already achieved economies of scale in this direction,” he argues.
– We plan to have several factories in Europe, some of which we already have. Geely is on a different level than other Chinese companies planning to expand into Europe. BYD or NIO or other groups, they only trade in cars. Their cars leave Chinese factories. Geely invests in design as well as research and development in Europe. All high value components are made in Europe. We produce items with low margins in China, because here we have the largest and largest range and we can send them to Europe very quickly – answered a question from Business Insider.
Trade war? It isn’t a problem
A strong presence in Europe is to protect my generation from a trade war that would derail its plans. “I don’t think anyone is blocking the supply of Chinese auto components to Europe because everyone is interested in supplies from that direction,” Sutcliffe told Business Insider.
The EU customs policy is also not a problem. Europe requires a high percentage of European components in the vehicle. Taxes depend on it. That’s why I wouldn’t say it’s not a handicap, but we’re still in a different position than many Chinese manufacturers, he points out.
Price, but not only
Geely does not hide that it wants to win at the price. However, the PR chief notes that the concern also wants to build its advantage by building its pro-environmental image. This can be hampered by the fact that Jelly comes from a country that is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, but Sutcliffe argues that the effects have already been noticed.
“Our Polestar brand is successfully penetrating the European market. This is no longer a car that is seen as ‘Chinese too cheap’. In this case, the image is built on green and sustainable transportation. You buy Polestar because you want to do something good for society and you want to reduce your carbon footprint. This is why they are so successful in northern Europe – for example in Sweden or Great Britain – he asserts.
“We don’t have brands that can be put up for any price in Europe. Zeekr is gaining popularity, although it’s still affordable, it’s already a premium, tech-savvy brand. Of course, I realized that everything is a matter of taste – they naturally use many Chinese components are in production and someone likes it or not.But usually when it comes to comparisons with other brands, it has many advantages.It can easily replace the cars of well-known European brands, because with their diesel price, it can save electric – continues.
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It explains the previous failures of the Chinese auto industry, which has not yet managed to penetrate Europe. It cannot be said that Chinese manufacturers have not made mistakes. Then many seemingly minor things discouraged consumers. For example, there was a story where a car was tested in very harsh weather conditions, but the mobile phone holder was forgotten. As a result, it slid very quickly during daily use. Or the car was only tested in moderate temperatures, which did not draw attention to the need for two cup holders for drinks on warm or cold days. Over time, these nuances improve, but it takes time and experience – he claims.
knowledge from china
The Chinese explain that they know how to “fit in” with the electric revolution in transportation, because it is already becoming the new normal in China’s largest cities. – China’s major cities and internal combustion cars? Forget it. If you buy a car like this in a city today, people will think you’re an idiot. It’s like buying a horse in 1930. At the same time, consumers are becoming more idealistic. Previously, they bought large foreign combustion engines, but now it’s the exact opposite. They go back to Li Xiang or Zeekr. In cars 300-400 thousand. Yuan (…) is everything, so they are no longer ashamed to drive Chinese cars. Let’s hope it will be the same in Poland – says Sutcliffe, referring to the collaboration with Isera.
“The electric cars in China are now so advanced that it is difficult to find a gas station in some places. In central Shanghai you would have to drive a really long distance to find a place to refuel. The gas station near my house was closed because no one was using it. In Hangzhou or Shanghai, chargers are everywhere. You are never more than 500m from the charging point – he guarantees.
– It could be similar in Europe – if the infrastructure improves, it will also be immediately affordable. And that, combined with the support system, will get people moving very quickly. This is the experience of China – he says.
The government collects the data
However, he cautions that there is still much work to be done. – Of course, not all countries look like this. For example, in western China, you may not see There are no green boards because there is no charging infrastructure yet or it is too dispersed, he says.
However, the government should take care of this, as it can collect more information about citizens than countries in Europe. He prepared an important mechanism that revolutionized the transformation of transportation. Every electric vehicle leaves its location data, so you can know where you’re not going. On this basis, it is known where the infrastructure needs to be developed, says a Geely global spokesperson. Of course, it’s just very basic data. It’s not about name, address, or phone number — it calms down after a while.
Batteries problem? The Chinese have a way of doing that
The representative of the concern also raised the problem of constant charging of electric vehicles – a relatively rapid drop in battery parameters. According to Sutcliffe, the industry will exit by before the lifetime of the electricity currently being offered on the market has expired.
Loss of battery capacity does not mean the end of the car, but rather a gradual decrease in range. But by then, it will likely be possible to replace the cells rather than the entire battery. This ecosystem is just being formed. I think we will soon see a situation where it will be just a repair, reminiscent of today’s engine malfunctions, – he said.
He also mentioned a different way of dealing with battery life, which is already being used in China and is gaining popularity. Geely, like another Chinese manufacturer – NIO – offers its customers in China the option to replace the battery. In other words, instead of driving to a charging station, the driver goes to a battery replacement station, where he replaces a depleted battery with a new, fully charged one. The whole thing takes as long as traditional refueling, and the service is included in the subscription.
People here are increasingly fond of such services, even if they are not cheap. When you are on a highway in China, during rush hour, Chinese New Year, and there are huge queues in the charging infrastructure, drivers with this option change their battery within a minute. He says it’s a good job.
What about when the battery life ends? – Our photovoltaic farms run on components from used batteries. The rest we improve and sell to e-bike companies. He concluded that everyone who could be seen in the city was equipped with “used” batteries.
Author: Grzegorz Kowalczyk, journalist for Business Insider Poland
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