Chinese automaker Geely’s Zeekr brand on Tuesday unveiled the 009, an electric van that marks the production debut of battery supplier CATL’s cell-to-pack battery tech.
Zeekr’s second model, following the 001 hatchback, the 009 is a six-seat van is expected to start deliveries in China in 2023. There are no plans to offer it in the United States, although it does appear large enough for this market.
Zeekr teased the van earlier this year, confirming use of CATL cell-to-pack tech, which skips the modules battery cells are usually placed in to form a pack, with some technological leaps to maintain proper monitoring and cooling and make the modules unnecessary.
CATL revealed the latest version of cell-to-pack tech in April, claiming that it could deliver 13% more power by volume than the 4680-format cells Tesla is shifting to—as well as impressive energy density of 355 watt-hours per kilogram with current-tech lithium-ion cells and 160 watt-hours per kilogram with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells.
In the 009, that increased power and energy density translates to an estimated 514 miles from the van’s 140-kwh pack, as measured on China’s CLTC testing cycle. That might still top 400 miles on the more stringent EPA testing cycle.
A pair of motors provide a combined 536 hp. They use silicon carbide tech to achieve 98.5% efficiency, and can propel the 009 from 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds, Zeekr claims—quick for a van.
The slab-sided 009 sharply contrasts the sleek-looking 009, but still manages a coefficient of drag of 0.27, according to Zeekr. The body shell also features a one-piece die-cast aluminum rear section that Zeekr claims aids crash protection.
To help avoid getting into a crash in the first place, the 009 gets a driver-assist system based around Mobileye chips, with seven 8-megapixel HD cameras, four 2-megapixel surround-view cameras, and one long-range and 12 short-range radar units for the sensor suite. Zeekr, which is expected to be publicly listed soon by parent Geely, said it will offer up to 30 driver-assist features.
Inside, passengers can use a 15.6-inch monitor that folds down from the ceiling to stream content or host videoconferences, while relaxing in nappa leather seats with massage.
Zeekr was formed in March 2021 as a “premium electric car company” under Geely, which also owns Volvo, Polestar, Lotus Cars, and Black Cab maker London Electric Vehicle Company, with in-house developed brands like Lynk & Co. and Geometry as well. While Zeekr aims for an “asset light operation strategy” that looks to suppliers for core tech—as demonstrated by the CATL partnership—other brands have their own engineering resources.
Volvo and Polestar are sharing some components—with the Polestar 3 and Volvo EX90 both built on the companies’ Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform, although they’re going their own way on motors and other performance components.
Cell-to-pack is not the only leading-edge battery tech that Geely is considering. It’s also considering the wider availability of battery swapping tech for its budget-oriented Geometry EV brand.
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