Chinese EV Maker Zeekr Releases The Zeekr 009, The Baddest-Looking Luxury EV Minivan I’ve Seen Yet

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At this very moment, there’s really only two EV passenger-carrying vans I can think of, and they’re both quite cool looking, though their inspirations and aesthetics are coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. The first one is the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, which I’ve written about before, and the other is the Zeekr 009, which was just officially released today. Where the ID.Buzz bases its look and character on a design from half a century ago and leverages all of the associated cultural and emotional impact of that original Microbus, the Zeekr 009 manages to have a really fresh, modern, sleek look that does not feel particularly derivative of anything I can think of. I like what I’m seeing.

009 1Zeekr is part of Geely, which also owns Volvo and Polestar and Lotus, among other brands, which is also why you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the design was done at least in part in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and that the 009 shares Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) with the yet-to-be-released Polestar 5.

Platform

Specs-wise, it seems the 009 is likely to have options for a single 272 horsepower motor or a twin-motor setup with about 536 hp, good enough to get this big, luxurious box from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, which feels like that should be plenty fast for a room that seats six.

Int1

The range is expected to be around 510 miles with a 140 kWh battery, which seems quite good. The battery is what’s known as a “cell-to-pack” design that eliminates modules of cells, instead placing the cells themselves directly into the pack, improving energy density by weight and eliminated some parts and complexity from the battery pack. This may come at the expense of serviceability, since it does effectively make the battery a monolithic unit.

The 009 also has adjustable air suspension and I suspect a lot of effort has been put into making this extremely comfortable to drive in, since it’s targeted at luxury and VIP clientele. You know, people who don’t like garbage.

Airsuspension

Plus, it seems the van lowers itself to facilitate entry and exit, which gets machine-translated hilariously as “honorable ascending and descending ceremony.”

I think what’s most striking about the 009, though, is the exterior design, especially in the context of a minivan. I don’t think this is ever intended to come to America, with its absurd stigma against minivans, and that’s a shame, because I think something like this could do a lot to rehabilitate the minivan’s image.

009 2This thing looks purposeful and sophisticated and modern and advanced, as imposing as any big-ass SUV but with a far better use of interior space, and two huge sliding doors. It’s unashamedly a minivan, yet it if you had to guess what you’d find ground into the carpets, you’d be more likely to guess bourbon and cocaine instead of grape juice and Cheerios.009 Front

That big, striking grille-looking element up front is called “The Fountain of Light” and incorporates over 150 LED strips. All of the lighting design is quite striking, with the taillights reminding me of the design language used at Geely-owned Lynk & Co.

009 Rear

The overall form is unashamedly upright and rectilinear, with an interesting kick-up by the C-pillar, and there’s some tidy and restrained use of brightwork. In a strange way, this feels to me what a clapdoor mid-’60s Lincoln Continental might have become, had its design language been translated into modern electric minivan.

Cutaway1

The rear-end structure is interesting, too:

A first in automotive production history, the 009 utilizes the world’s largest one-piece die-casted rear aluminum body (1.4m long, 1.6m wide) made in the world’s largest 7,200 ton die-casting machine, which reduces deformations in event of impact and increases bending stiffness. A two-stage detachable buffer structure is added to reduce post-collision maintenance costs.

I think the Zeekr 009 looks like a really striking and cool minivan, and I think a more mainstream-priced version could do great even here in America, where it could possibly help rehab the minivan’s image into something cool and desirable.

China gets it; why can’t we?

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57 Responses

  1. Why are we still calling things like this a minivan? Full sized vans used to be BOF, RWD and V8. Now full sized vans are mostly unibody, rwd/awd or fwd and use a variety of v6, some with turbo. So called minivans are unibody and FWD/AWD with v6, some hybrids. In terms of size and weight, they’re all overlapping. So what exactly distinguishes these things as “mini”?

    I think it’s time to stop using that term and just refer to them all as vans. Really, the only thing that distinguishes them anymore is how they’re used. Passenger vans or cargo/work vans.

    If you want to help relieve the stigma, just call them vans.

    1. “Full sized vans used to be BOF”

      Actually that’s not true. All of the large vans from Ford, Chevy and Dodge were unibody all along.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram_van#Original_B_series
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_E-Series
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_van

      And the unibody construction is why someone would go with the van chassis or not. The van chassis was more space efficient and had a lower floor because of the unibody construction. But it had inferior load/towing capability compared to their pickup truck counterparts.

      1. The original vans were unibody in the 60s and 70s, but the vans of the 90s and 2000s (Ram Van, E-series, Chevy Express/GMC Savana) were all body-on-frame. You could even buy cutaways of each. That’s why U-Haul and many RV makers moved to those around that time – easy conversion compared to a unibody.

  2. I mean, it also has a ten-palace cell structure, so that sounds more regal than, well….a Buick Regal. Overall, if my wife allowed me to get a van, I would be interested in something like this. I am not against luxury. Maybe the luxury could get her to like this?

    What do you all think about the luxuryness of this van?

  3. Yet more un-original derivative Chinese design. I’m seeing Kia in the swoop by the rear doors, Land Rover Range Rover on the taillight, just about every Euro maker with the light bar on the back, Rolls Royce for the grill and seeing a little bit of Rivian in the headlights. At least they’re improving from copying designs outright and just throwing together a greatest hits design with mixed results.

  4. Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine goes to visit a friend out in the Hamptons to see the friend’s new baby, and when Elaine sees the baby, it’s the absolute ugliest baby she’s ever seen, but then the pediatrician says the baby is “breathtaking”? Jason, you’re playing the role of the pediatrician in this article. If this is the 009, I’d hate to see what the 001-008 models looked like.

    “China gets it; why can’t we?”
    I feel like you asked AND ANSWERED this question in the same article. This vehicle makes the Aztek look like a pageant winner.

  5. Dear Mr. Torchinsky:

    When I first saw your article title, how this was the “baddest-looking van” I found myself agreeing with your title, how this van looked quite bad. I was expecting some genuine snark in the article, where you loosened your figurative collar and wrote a polite, restraiend screed about your dislike of the vehicle. So you can imagine my surprise, I hope, when I saw none of that.

    With the utmost of respect, I disagree entirely with your assessment. I will concede, grudgingly, that it has a bit of a unique look for a van, though I suspect it would have just been a matter of time. It has the same, squared-off, unneccessarily large-and-tall look of the modern North American pickup truck, a vehicle designed to soothe the frail self-esteem of men with a small toolkit feel better about biological features outside of their control. However, no number of trips to Harbor Freight can help them, or this van.

    “Sleek” is not the word that comes to mind for me. “Blunt” does. It has the presence and subtlety of a sledgehammer. Were I in a generous mood, I’d say this is a vehicle flicking off the concept of aerodynamics. It also has that trend of taking a common English word and spelling it incorrectly. Now, that may be my past job history speaking, but that’s a trend I can’t wait to pass. Where I am from, we spell words correctly. Or, at least, we make the occasional typo but seek to correct it as quickly and discretely as possible. Mistakes happen, and that’s why I should hire an editor for my comments.

    If I were on a minivan-based version of Mastermind and the question “What sort of spills would you expect in the carpets of this van?” my honest answer would be, “Cigarette butts and instant coffee.” If the correct answer actually was “bourbon and cocaine” I expect the audience would riot. Okay, I actually expect the audience would just murmur quietly, but that murmur would have a hint of a riot about its figurative edges.

    I disagree that it looks sophisticated, modern or advanced. It’s trying to look imposing, and it’s aping modernity in sort of the same crass way that Dartz would. If you told me that Dartz designed made this, I’d believe you, and compliment them for showing just a hint of restraint.

    To end on a positive note, I’m not opposed to the back end of this “Seeker”. It’s squared-off, it’s utilitarian, it makes better use of that space. This is very faint praise, and since I’m not in the market for a vehicle with these properties, my opinions are worth very little anyway. However, venting my spleen is one of the few entertainments I am legally allowed these days, so I permit myself the very rare indulgence.

    Yrs with appreciation,
    Acierocolotl Coltrane.

  6. Sorry…
    Im missing the COHESION here. Its got these aluminum strips over the entry doors. Its got a 2mil thick Gilette front grille. Its got these.. LED front lights.

    Its got a set of rear captains chairs… in a 7200lb single mold rear section. — Help me to understand how this helps in rear crash safety. Its got white inside.. black outside.

    I dont get where the luxury is. (If you have to be told.. its not there — HINT.)

  7. Overall I rather like it. It’s brutish, without looking as pissed off as so many of the cars we see on the road over here these days. It does give off a video game vibe. I fully expect to see this as something you can drive in GTA 7: the one where you can steal future shit.

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