China's EV maker Zeekr opens orders for two luxury cars in Sweden, Netherlands

Security guard walks past a sign of Geely's new brand Zeekr at its factory in Ningbo

By Johan Ahlander and Sameer Manekar

LONDON (Reuters) -Zeekr, Geely Automobile's electric brand, said on Wednesday that two of its all-electric luxury cars are available for pre-order in the Netherlands and Sweden, joining a growing number of Chinese EV makers launching vehicles in Europe.

Deliveries for the Zeekr 001 estate and the Zeekr X SUV are set to begin in the autumn, the company said. Pricing for the Zeekr 01 starts at 59,490 euros ($65,076) including taxes, while the Zeekr X starts 44,990 euros.

At a launch event in Gothenburg, Spiros Fotinos, head of Zeekr's Europe business, said Sweden and the Netherlands were well advanced in sales of electric vehicles (EVs), allowing the company to learn from consumers before trying other European markets.

Zeekr hopes to launch in Denmark, Germany, France and Norway in 2024.

"Our plan is that through 2026 we will cover the majority of western Europe," he told Reuters. "We have several other models in the pipeline that you will see over the coming years and the aim, of course, is for us to be present in important segments in the European market."

Other Chinese EV makers including BYD, Xpeng and Aiways have all launched sales in Europe, seeking to gain market share while many consumers are still new to EVs.

Europe's carmakers face a dual threat from the prospect of falling sales of their own vehicles in China, where local EV makers have been growing market share, and from rising sales of imported Chinese EVs - made by Chinese or Western carmakers.

Zeekr will open flagship stores in Stockholm and Amsterdam by the end of this year, but will pursue online sales rather than building out networks of dealers.

"There has been a lot of inherent inefficiency in the traditional distribution system and I think everyone is trying to squeeze that inefficiency out, because costs are increasing," Fotinos said.

($1 = 0.9142 euros)

(Writing by Nick Carey, reporting by Johan Ahlander in Gothenburg and Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and David Evans)