China’s Geely launches electric van as city dwellers embrace camping


The Geely logo is seen on a wheel rim at a car dealership in Shanghai, China August 17, 2021. Picture taken August 17, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/

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SHANGHAI, July 12 (Reuters) – Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding (GEELY.UL) unveiled a new electric pickup truck on Tuesday, targeting growing demand from city residents as coronavirus curbs fuel interest in business outdoors like camping.

The Volvo owner also launched a new brand, RADAR, at an online event on Tuesday where it showcased its first pickup truck product, which it called RD6. An earlier statement had referred to the new truck as the R6.

He did not disclose the selling price of the vehicle, but said it would have a range of more than 600 km (370 miles) per charge.

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“According to an optimistic estimate, annual pickup truck sales could reach 3 million units in China by 2030,” RADAR CEO Ling Shiquan told Reuters in an interview.

“More and more people are pursuing a healthy lifestyle with more outdoor activities while governments are also easing restrictions for pickup trucks in cities. These changes are supporting the growth of pickup trucks,” Ling added.

Pickups are considered a niche segment in China where they are mainly used by farmers. They are still banned from most urban roads despite trials since 2016 allowing entry into certain areas of several cities and urging Beijing to speed up the removal of red tape.

These vehicles accounted for about 2% of auto sales in China last year, growing faster than other segments, including sedans and sport utility vehicles.

Interest in vehicles is growing among the country’s urban residents engaging in outdoor activities as COVID-19 measures discourage gatherings and severely affect domestic and international travel. Read more

Nevertheless, pickup truck sales fell 10.3% in the first five months of this year, compared with a 13% drop in passenger vehicles more broadly, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), the sector also being impacted by COVID restrictions.

Ling said Geely aims to start offering the RD6 to Chinese consumers in the fourth quarter, while the company is also looking at the Southeast Asian market for potential expansion opportunities.

Geely could also seek to bring the trucks to the United States, the world’s biggest pickup market, to compete with existing players such as Ford (FN), Tesla and Rivian (RIVN.O), Ling said.

China’s pickup truck market is currently dominated by Hebei-based Great Wall Motor, while foreign players include Ford’s F-150 Raptor and a $9,000 pickup truck launched by General Motors with its local joint venture last year.

Geely once released a pickup with a combustion engine priced at 119,900 yuan ($17,815.75) two years ago.

($1 = 6.7300 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(In the story, Geely officially corrects the model name to RD6 from R6 previously.)

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Reporting by Zhang Yan, Brenda Goh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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