Geely (Chinese: 吉利; pinyin: Jílì) means "auspicious" or "lucky" in Mandarin Chinese.
Founding Geely in 1986 as a refrigerator maker with money borrowed from family, Li Shufu transformed the company into a success selling inexpensive products to Chinese consumers. A pioneer private Chinese automaker, in 2003 it remained the only domestic car manufacturer to lack ties to the Chinese state, although another indigenous, politically independent automaker, BYD Auto, was rising around this time. (Great Wall Motors may be considered another firm less burdened with ties to the state.)
After the purchase of a failing, state-run firm, Geely manufactured motorcycles in the mid-1990s. Small van production began in 1998, and a year later, it received state approval to manufacture automobiles. Car production began in 2002. The company had its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004.
The company had a booth at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, and a 2006 showing at the Detroit auto show.
Geely approached Ford in mid-2008 about a possible takeover of Volvo Cars. On October 28, 2009, it was named as the preferred buyer of Volvo by the American automaker. A deal was reached in late March and completed in early August, 2010.
In 2010, total sales of over 415,000 units gave the company a near 2% market share. Sales were lower than a reported 680,000 units per year production capacity.
In December 2011, it was announced that Geely would begin selling Chinese-designed and -manufactured cars in the United Kingdom at the end of 2012, with the first model to go on sale being the Emgrand EC7. The company has also stated its intention to begin sales in Italy.
Headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, Geely has production bases in Lanzhou, Gansu (completed in 2006, Geely construction in the region continued as of August 2010 either for expanding the existing facility or for a new semi-complete knock-down factory); Xiangtan, Hunan; an unnamed location 40 minutes south of Shanghai; Jinan, Shandong province; and at Linhai, Luqiao, and Ningbo, in Zhejiang.
As of 2011, two Volvo manufacturing plants were planned in Daqing and Chengdu, and work on a transmissions-making factory in Tongliang, Chongqing had been initiated.
At least four overseas factories assemble Geely models probably from semi-complete or complete knock-down kits. Such facilities are or have been located in Indonesia, (some of its production has been imported back to China), Sri Lanka (in collaboration with Micro Cars), Malaysia, Russia, (assembly is controlled by local firm Derways), and Ukraine. These locations are not necessarily affiliated with or owned by Geely.
Establishing a joint venture with this British maker of London Black Cabs in 2007, Geely purchased Manganese Bronze Holdings, now trading as The London Taxi Company, in 2013.
The joint venture, Shanghai LTI Automobile Components Co Ltd, made the TX4, a licensed London Black Cab, in Fengjing, Shanghai, and exported semi-complete knock-down kits for assembly in the UK.
In 2009, Geely bought Drivetrain Systems International Pty Ltd, a global transmission developer headquartered in Australia.
Geely sells passenger cars under two marques: Geely and, through its Swedish Volvo Cars subsidiary, Volvo.
Many of Geely's early products were based on the Xiali, a variant of the 1987 Daihatsu Charade. Models such as the Haoqing (豪情) (five-door), Merrie (美日) (five-door), Uliou (优利欧) (four-door), and Urban Nanny (van and pick-up truck) have Charade bases, but feature a more prominent chromed grille.
A sense of humor imbues the names of some Geely vehicles. One sedan is called the "King Kong", and an early model was named You Li Ou, a play on words that means "better than the Tianjin Xiali or the Buick Sail", two of its competitors.
Geely marque products include:Xiali-based
1998-2006 – HQ/Haoqing/Haoqing SRV (豪情/豪情SRV) – 1.0 L & 1.3 L & 1.5 L hatchback
2003-2009 – MR/Merrie (美日) – hatchback
2003-2005 – MR/Uliou/MS (优利欧)
2001-2007 – PU/Rural Nanny/Urban Nanny
2003-2006 – BL/Beauty Leopard/BO (美人豹) – 1.5 L coupe
2005 – CK/Freedom Cruiser – 1.3 L & 1.5 L & 1.6 L sedan
2005 – Geely 美日之星 – 1.1 L & 1.3 L hatchback
2006 – MK/LG/KingKong (金刚) – 1.5 L & 1.6 L sedan (also called Micro Sedan in Sri Lanka)
2006 – FC/Vision (远景) – 1.8 L CVVT & 1.5 L CVVT sedan
2008 – Geely China Dragon (中国龙) – 1.8L CVVT coupe
Geely has sold cars under at least three separate brands and may have continued to use the brand name of a purchased company for a short time. The Emgrand, Englon, and Gleagle names were phased out in 2014 alongside efforts to reduce sprawl, and the Shanghai Maple brand name was discontinued in 2010.
Emgrand (Chinese: 帝豪; pinyin: Dìháo) was launched in 2009 as a medium to high-end luxury brand.
Products sold under the Emgrand brand included:2009 – 2014 Emgrand EC7 – 1.8 L CVVT sedan/hatchback
2010 – 2014 Emgrand EC8 2.0L, 2.4L sedan
2010 – 2014 Emgrand EC7-RV 1.5L, 1.8L hatchback
2011 – 2014 Emgrand EX7 SUV
Launched in 2010 and replacing the Shanghai Maple brand, the company claimed Englon (Chinese: 英伦; pinyin: yīng lún) emulated classic, British style, and its model line included a TX4 sold on the Chinese market. Some of its cars were built by Geely subsidiary Shanghai LTI. As Geely fully acquired The London Taxi Company in 2013, the emblem of Englon also became the new logo of The London Taxi Company.
Gleagle (Chinese: 全球鹰; pinyin: Quánqiú Yīng) was an entry-level brand.
Some Gleagle cars, such as the Gleagle Panda, were available for sale on the Internet in China via the Taobao Mall, a popular e-commerce site. While Geely would deliver the car to the customer's address, buying one of the Panda models on offer did necessitate a trip to a traditional dealer.
Products sold under the Gleagle brand included:
Gleagle products include:2008 — Gleagle Panda (熊猫) – 1.3L & 1.0 L CVVT hatchback, also known as the Geely LC
2010 – Gleagle GX2 (Panda Cross) – 1.3/1.5 L
2011 – Gleagle CK – 1.0/1.5 L, a rebadging of the Geely CK
2012 – Gleagle GC7 – 1.8 L four-door sedan
This brand name was affiliated with Shanghai Maple Automobile, a Geely subsidiary established in 1999. It was replaced by the Englon brand in 2010.
Products sold under the Shanghai Maple brand included:2003–2010 — Maple Huapu (华普) M203 – 1.5 L 5-door hatchback
2003–2010 – Maple Hisoon (海迅) AA & AB – 5-door hatchback
2004–2010 – Maple Marindo (海域) M303 – 1.5 L & 1.8 L sedan
2005–2010 – Maple Hysoul (海尚) M305 – 5-door hatchback
2006–2010 – Maple Hysoul (海尚) M206/Haixuan (海炫) – car aimed specially at female consumers
Geely manufactures a number of motor scooters and motorcycles from 50 to 250 cc displacement.
Geely refers to its dealer network as 4S stores and also sells some models online. In 2014, it had a reported 900 retail outlets.
In addition to China, Geely vehicles are sold in Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In a number of markets, Geely vehicles are assembled in local factories from complete knock-down kits.
Cuba's government has purchased a considerable number of Geely vehicles, and they are pressed into service as police patrol cars or tourist taxis throughout Havana.
In 2010, Geely surpassed its projected 400,000-vehicle sales target for the year selling 415,286 units of its 680,000 units/year production capacity prompting the company to set its 2011 sales target at 480,000, a 16% increase. That year, 15,596,100 units (7,793,600 passenger vehicles) were sold in China, giving Geely a 2.66% market share. Geely has announced its ambitions to double its market share in China to 5.8% by 2015.
A small Geely sedan, the CK, performed badly in an informal crash test conducted by a Russian magazine in 2007. As a result, Geely reviewed its global export plans. A 2009 1.3-liter Geely CK 1 model without airbags earned a zero-star rating in a Latin-NCAP crash test on protecting adult occupants in front seats.
In 2010, the Geely LC scored 45.3 points of a possible 51 in the China-NCAP crash tests, making it China's first locally researched and developed mini car to be awarded a 5-star rating, and the safest Chinese hatchback as of 2011.
In 2011, the Geely Emgrand EC7 earned a 4-star rating in a Euro-NCAP crash test.
The Geely GE has received criticism for looking like a Rolls-Royce and the LC, a Citroën C1 or a Toyota Aygo.
An unsuccessful lawsuit was brought against the company in the early 2000s by Toyota, which claimed Geely had "implied in ads that some of the parts [used in Geely vehicles] were made by Toyota". Geely may also have previously used a logo that resembled that of Toyota.