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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Chinese EV maker Zeekr makes historic NYSE debut, hitting $7 billion valuation

Chinese EV startup Zeekr debuted on the New York Stock Exchange with a bang with investors seemingly betting on Zeekr's potential as a high-quality, affordable challenger to established automakers.

Zeekr's stock soared 38% on the first day, valuing the company at a cool $7 billion. The EV maker managed to sell 21 million shares at $21 per share to raise $441 million, an upsize from earlier plans to sell 17.5 million shares between $18 and $21.

However, recent history in the public EV market suggests that early stock surges may not be sustainable in the long run. Zeekr’s debut comes at a time when customers are shying away from steep EV prices, amidst price wars, and geopolitical tensions, putting the automaker’s market position at risk.

Zeekr plans to use the new money to expand operations outside China where the competition is not as stiff. Europe, in particular, is a big target for Zeekr as it rolls out EVs that compete with models from legacy European automakers. The company began shipments of its flagship Zeekr 001 shooting brake SUV to the Netherlands at the end of 2023 and plans to expand deliveries to six European countries in 2024, with a goal to be in eight countries by 2025.

Other Chinese automakers including BYD, SAIC, and Great Wall Motor, are already selling in Europe.

While Zeekr hasn’t announced its plans for the U.S. market, it has an ongoing partnership with Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology unit to build an all-electric, self-driving robo-taxis. Neither company has shared any updates on the timing for the launch of this vehicle.s Previous renderings suggest the vehicle might resemble a minivan and could be modeled on Zeekr’s fifth model, the Mix.

Zeekr is still a young company, but backing from Geely has given it great momentum with the company delivering 49,148 vehicles in the first four months ended April 30. By comparison, competitors like Xpeng and Nio delivered 31,214 units and 45,673 units, respectively, during the same period.

However, Zeekr is still operating at a loss. The company reported bringing in $7.3 billion in revenue in 2023. That’s up from about $4.6 billion reported at the end of 2022, but high operations costs translated to a net loss of $1.7 billion, up 8% from the previous year.

Zeekr has yet to release its financial statements for the first quarter of 2024 but expects vehicle sales revenue to be higher than Q1 2023, although lower than Q4 2023.

Zeekr’s successful IPO and market debut are undoubtedly significant, but as with any high-flying debut, the company must navigate through a complex web of challenges, both in terms of market dynamics and geopolitical tensions, to sustain its momentum and deliver on its promises.


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