BEIJING, May 22 (TiPost) -- Last week, Geely Holding announced the completion of the shareholding increase in Aston Martin, a legendary ultra-luxury performance brand in Britain. Geely Holding now holds approximately 17% of the shares, becoming the third-largest shareholder of the automaker. On the day of the announcement, Aston Martin's stock price rose 25% during the intraday trading.
Against the backdrop of global ultra-luxury brands turning to electrification, with Geely's help, Aston Martin will have the opportunity to become an electric sports car manufacturer and reverse the current situation. As Aston Martin's Chairman Lawrence Stroll stated, "The completion of this deal is a key step towards realizing Aston Martin's grand vision. Working with Geely will allow us to gain deeper insights into China's strategic growth market and have the opportunity to receive a series of advanced technical support from Geely. This transaction establishes a more long-term partnership between the two parties, and I believe that this cooperation will create significant value for all shareholders."
Becoming a major shareholder of a global well-known automaker is not Li Shufu's goal. His goal is to build Geely Holding into a global automotive group.
Over the years, by establishing synergies with Volvo, Lotus, and Mercedes-Benz, Geely has achieved impressive results in core technology improvement, brand power improvement, and overseas performance.
Brands such as Volvo, Lotus, and Mercedes-Benz that have established connections with Geely have also gained better development by leveraging Geely's global resources and its understanding of the Chinese market. From this perspective, it is a win-win choice.
Increasing the shareholding of Aston Martin is a further extension of this win-win choice.
Before Increasing Its Stake in Aston Martin
Prior to becoming the third-largest shareholder of Aston Martin, Geely had accumulated enough successful experience in helping other famous luxury car manufacturers out of difficulties.
In 2010, after Volvo, which was under Ford's control, fell into a development dilemma, it was fully acquired by Geely, and gained unprecedented development opportunities. Its sales doubled, from 335,000 vehicles in 2009 to 615,000 vehicles in 2022. Since 2014, China has been Volvo's largest global single market.
Today, Volvo is still a listed company and was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange on October 29, 2021, which is an important milestone in the development history of Volvo Cars. Now, Volvo is striving to become a pure electric luxury car manufacturer.
It can be seen that with Geely's support, Volvo does not need to bear the heavy burden of fossil fuel assets like other luxury car manufacturers, and can focus more on the transformation to pure electric cars.
Today, the relationship between Geely and Volvo has gradually achieved comprehensive integration in finance, production, manufacturing, procurement, and technological research and development. In more than ten years of cooperation, Volvo has achieved a revival, and Geely has also achieved leapfrog growth.
Volvo's success proves that Geely has considerable strength in operating luxury car brands, and this successful experience has subsequently been brought into its cooperative relationships with Lotus and Mercedes-Benz Group.
In 2017, Geely acquired 51% of the shares of Lotus, a British luxury sports car brand, becoming its largest shareholder. At that time, although Lotus was known as a fallen aristocrat, Li Shufu and his Geely saw the hidden value behind it. The process of the auto industry's transformation to electric cars provided opportunities for newcomers, and Geely used this to develop a revival plan for Lotus.
Now, Lotus is striving to become an intelligent and electric-powered supercar brand. This year, the first pure electric hyper-SUV from Lotus, ELETRE, has been gradually delivered to global users. By 2026, Lotus will launch three new pure electric models, with the goal of entering the mainstream pure electric luxury market from a niche market.
Geely, with its experience in building luxury brands, helped Lotus complete the first step of its revival plan. And its investment in Mercedes-Benz Group's smart brand has also proved to be a successful case.
Although smart brand under Mercedes-Benz Group has produced many famous classic cars, it has always struggled to make a profit and has faced the fate of being abandoned by its parent company. Geely's timely intervention has given smart brand a chance to be reborn.
In 2019, Geely and Mercedes-Benz Group established a joint venture around the smart brand, with the company's headquarters located in Geely's home base - Ningbo Hangzhou Bay New Zone - and the two sides jointly operate and promote the electrification transformation of the smart brand.
Today, the new smart brand's first electric vehicle - the smart EQ fortwo #1 - is gaining market success and is not only popular in the domestic market, but also favored by overseas users in Europe and other places. After a comprehensive renewal of the brand, product, and business model, smart is finally entering a new stage of full-speed operation in 2023, and Geely has played a crucial role behind the scenes.
Geely has played a key role in helping Volvo regain its global luxury brand status, leading Lotus to complete the first step of its revival plan, and assisting the smart brand in its comprehensive renewal. At the same time, these successful global mergers and acquisitions cases have also enabled Geely to achieve good development, as it is fully compatible with its own development.
In Geely's view, global mergers and acquisitions should be closely integrated with the company's own development strategy, build a global industrial layout through mergers and acquisitions of resources, enhance the core competitiveness of the industrial chain, and continue to create value for users.
Geely has always believed that the automotive industry is a global industry, which is the logic behind its global layout and investment. Geely itself has also absorbed advantages from various aspects through its global layout.
Geely's Gains From Globalization
Within the Geely Holding Group, each brand operates independently and cooperates with each other for development, actively participates in market competition around users and brand positioning, seeks synergy in basic technology research and basic infrastructure development, and maximizes the sharing of group resources.
Under this brand strategy, Geely itself has also achieved unprecedented development. Today's Geely gives the impression of a three-dimensional image consisting of technology, high-end, and globalization.
Firstly, Geely's technological image is gaining industry recognition.
In 2022, Geely Automotive Group achieved a historic high in revenue, with a year-on-year growth of 45.6%. It is worth noting that the revenue obtained through technology authorization amounted to 1.66 billion yuan, with a year-on-year increase of 29.9%.
This indicates that Geely has established a certain degree of technological moat and has the ability to export technology. Previously, this kind of ability was generally only found in foreign car companies.
The SEA architecture, which took 5 years to develop and invested more than 20 billion yuan, has shown the potential to become a global standard smart electric vehicle solution. Currently, more than 20 models from different brands, both inside and outside of the Geely Holding Group, are developed based on this architecture.
In addition, Geely has made significant investments and explorations in cutting-edge technology fields such as new energy technology, human-computer interaction, intelligent driving, in-vehicle chips, and low-orbit satellites. Geely's goal is to establish a strong technology ecosystem to build a technological moat.
Secondly, Geely's high-end image is occupying users' minds.
Geely, Lynk & Co, and Zeekr, the main brands under Geely Holding, are developing forward with the characteristics of both high-end and large-scale. Among them, the high-end image of the Geely brand is mainly due to the success of the "China Star" series. In 2022, the total sales volume of the China Star series reached 259,000 units, accounting for more than 23% of the Geely brand, with an average unit price of 150,000 yuan.
In 2022, the weighted average price of Lynk & Co brand products reached 174,000 yuan, even exceeding the average selling price of many mainstream joint venture brands. Moreover, Lynk & Co became the fastest-growing Chinese high-end automotive brand to break through 800,000 units in 2022. This has made Lynk & Co a model for creating high-end brands among independent brands.
Geely's other luxury smart pure electric brand, Zeekr, has also put Geely in the competition with luxury brands such as BBA. The average unit price of Zeekr 001 exceeds 3.36 million yuan, and it has continuously held the sales crown for Chinese brand pure electric vehicles with a price of over 300,000 yuan.
Thanks to years of global layout and investment, Geely's sub-brand Lynk & Co started its European strategy as early as 2020 and launched its Asia-Pacific strategy in 2021. In 2022, Lynk & Co's export sales volume further expanded by 300%, making it the top Chinese brand for car models with a price tag over 250,000 RMB.
In the Chinese high-end car market dominated by German automakers, Lynk & Co has gained a foothold through competition. Now, Lynk & Co is planning to bring its competitive advantage to the headquarters of German automakers - the European market.
Lynk & Co's goal is to become the leading brand in the European electric vehicle market by 2030. This goal is achievable as a foreign automotive consulting company estimated that by 2030, Chinese brands will hold a 20% market share in Europe's electric vehicle market.
It is evident that the global expansion strategy established over the years is constantly benefiting Geely itself. This is because Geely has always adhered to the philosophy that car manufacturing is a complex system engineering, and after acquisitions, systematic integration is even more critical. Geely focuses on intrinsic development, delves into the craftsmanship culture, explores technology to improve industrial chain coordination and high-quality car building, ultimately enhancing the user experience.
It is foreseeable that after acquiring more shares in Aston Martin, Geely will quickly enter the fast lane of development. Especially in the weakly positioned Chinese market, there may be opportunities to achieve significant breakthroughs. Geely always implements the philosophy that the global automotive industry is undergoing tremendous changes and facing huge challenges. Therefore, it must maintain a humble, open, and cooperative attitude and work with global partners to occupy the technological high ground and ultimately achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.
For Geely itself, it will have the opportunity to further integrate its resources of products, technology, talents, and capital, to enhance its core competitiveness, and to continue shaping its technological, high-end, and globalized three-dimensional image.
(This article is first published on the TiPost App.)