Chinese EV maker Zeekr made a splash on Sept. 1 when it launched its first high-performance, track-focused vehicle – one which it hopes will establish new benchmarks in the field and compete with established brands such as Porsche and Tesla.

The 001 FR, which Zeekr is calling the world’s best-performance electric vehicle, uses four silicon-carbine motors for sophisticated torque vectoring, producing a powerful 1,265 brake horsepower, compared with 887 hp of the Porsche 918 Spyder.

The high-performance brake, completely redesigned from the original 001, can, the company claims, accelerate from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 2.07 seconds, faster than the 2.1-second acceleration to 60 mph of the Tesla Model S Plaid. The new model promises to be an everyday supercar, with a rapid battery charge from 10% to 80% in 15 minutes.

The debut comes at a time when Chinese manufacturers are rushing to launch premium offerings with eye-catching performance specs in a quest to upscale and compete in the global luxury EV segment. 

Zeekr has not released pricing details for the 001 FR, but has said the car will be made available in limited supply of up to 99 units a month from October. This will bring it into competition with another high-end rival, as BYD begins deliveries of its RMB 1 million ($150,000) electric SUV later this month. 

Global luxury brands have ruled the performance car segment throughout the era of internal combustion engines … but Chinese electric vehicles are now capable of competing head-to-head against European top-tier supercars,” Andy An, chairman of Geely Auto Group and CEO of Zeekr told reporters in an interview after the launch. 

TechNode also spoke to Chen Qi, vice president of Zeekr and a former Huawei executive, about the company’s approach to autonomous driving as it looks to expand overseas. Geely’s premium EV subsidiary is establishing its footprint in Europe as part of its goal to deliver 140,000 units this year while looking to sell shares publicly in the US. 

Below are highlights from a group interview after the launch, which have been translated, condensed, and edited for clarity:

On limited production of the 001 FR 

An: The Zeekr 001 FR comes with a comprehensive list of high-performance equipment among which are extremely rare parts mostly needed and reserved for professional race cars. 

For example, more than 70% of Brembo’s carbon-ceramic brake systems are provided to today’s top-tier race cars, with less than 20,000 units available for road cars annually. We are individually crafting the 001 FR to ensure the highest standards of quality are attained, which together with other factors restricts the sports car’s output capacity to less than 100 units a month. 

Our customers have reacted remarkably well: the first 99 units of the 001 FR were sold out in 15 seconds after reservations opened [on Sept. 1] and the number exceeded our annual production capacity 20 minutes after that. I think this is because the 001 FR represents the state of the art as a sports wagon, which could improve sales and help establish Zeekr’s image as a technology-driven company. 

On Zeekr’s self-driving roadmap 

Chen: Zeekr has pursued a dual strategy of initiating in-house development as well as outsourcing to catch up with rivals in self-driving technologies. We are pushing forward a new program to bring autonomous driving for urban scenarios with future models using Nvidia’s semiconductor chips.

Meanwhile, it requires a relatively long period of testing and validation for existing Zeekr models to navigate Chinese urban roads with Mobileye’s advanced driver-assist technology. Mobileye has been an early mover in creating its digital maps to enable self-driving cars and we will use its assisted driving systems mainly in the European market. 

Automakers are deploying assisted driving technology on a city-by-city basis because more effort is needed to enhance the neural network’s generalization ability in various practical driving scenarios. [Editor’s note: Transformer is a new deep neural network architecture first mentioned in a 2017 Google paper and later used by Tesla to convert location data gathered by cameras into three-dimensional space for motion planning and control. Many assisted driving software have since been written using the transformer algorithm.]

We are accelerating efforts to roll out driver assistance software, first applicable on major Chinese highways, and we will then let our cars navigate complex urban streets automatically. 

On Zeekr’s US listing plan  

An: Zeekr will venture into the capital markets. But it is not the top priority for our management at the moment. There is no update on Zeekr’s listing plan following approval from the Chinese regulator. We will keep an eye on investor sentiment before taking a chance to go public. 

Zeekr has set an annual delivery target of 650,000 units by 2025 as one of the top three luxury EV makers worldwide since its inception and remains confident under pressure. We’ve made significant progress in a comprehensive way, including building a substantial cost advantage over competitors other than Tesla, and will reach the goal with the launch of a new model later this year, followed by two all-new ones in 2024 and 2025. 

On global expansion 

An: Zeekr started exports to Europe with 500 Zeekr 001 cars last month and will begin vehicle delivery first in Sweden and the Netherlands as early as September and in several other European countries next year. We are also preparing to enter regional markets including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, but will keep our focus on Europe at the moment. 

We expect to see a significant contribution to sales from overseas markets in the future. Chinese electric vehicles are gaining momentum in the global auto industry and we will make use of this to go upscale and expand globally.

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Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen