Founding Geely in 1986 as a refrigerator-maker with money borrowed from family,Li Shufu transformed his company into a successful private automaker 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 big-sized, politically independent automaker was rising around this time, BYD Auto. (Great Wall Motors may be considered one more Chinese automaker less-burdened with ties to the state.)
After the purchase of a failing, state-run firm, Geely manufactured motorcycles in the mid-nineties. Small van production began in 1998, and a year after Geely received state approval to make automobiles, car production began in 2002. It had its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004.
Geely approached Ford in mid-2008 about a possible takeover of Volvo Cars. On October 28, 2009, Geely 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. Volvo continues to operate independent of its new owners, but Geely wants to make Volvo-branded cars in China something Volvo (but not the Chinese state) has agreed to, desires synergy, and nowadays communicates with the company via a special, twice-yearly meeting.
In 2010, total sales of over 415,000 units allowed 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.
Research and development
In 2007, Geely applied for approximately 120 intellectual property rights. One-third were patents and two-thirds were utility models. In comparison to patents, utility models are cheaper and less research-intensive. Since 2005, the patent and utility model applications nearly doubled. From 2005 to 2006, it quintupled.
Part of the assembly line of the Geely plant in Beilun, China
Geely sells passenger cars under the Emgrand, Englon, Geely, Gleagle, and Volvo marques. Some Geely passenger cars include engine technology from Robert Bosch GmbH and seatbelts provisioned from Autoliv. Many of Geely's early products are based on the Xiali TJ7300, 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's medium to high-end luxury brand, Emgrand (Chinese: 帝豪品牌; pinyin: dì háo pǐnpái) was launched in 2009. Geely will phase out Emgrand later this year and consolidate around the Geely brand.
Launched in 2010, and replacing the Shanghai Maple brand, Englon (Chinese: 英伦; pinyin: yīng lún) emulates classic, British style, and its model line includes a TX4 sold on the Chinese market. Some of its cars are built by Geely subsidiary Shanghai LTI. Geely will phase out Englon later this year and consolidate around the Geely brand.
Considered a "goofy" word by native English speakers, Gleagle (Chinese: 全球鹰; pinyin: quánqiú yīng)) is touted as an entry-level brand.
Some Gleagle cars, such as the Gleagle Panda, may be available for sale on the Internet in China via the Taobao Mall, a popular e-commerce site. While Geely will deliver the car to your address, buying one of the Panda models on offer does necessitate a trip to a traditional dealer. Geely will phase out Gleagle later this year and consolidate around the Geely brand.
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 that year selling 415,286 units of their 680,000 units/year production capacity, prompting the company to set their 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, however.
A small Geely sedan, the CK, performed badly in an informal crash test done 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.
An ultimately 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 used a logo that resembled that of Toyota.
^"The Little Car Company That Can?". BloombergBusinessweek. June 16, 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2012. Please note that the Xiali is based on a Daihatsu Charade, so while this article refers to a "Toyota Charade" they really mean the Chinese-market version of the Daihatsu Charade, which was popular in China
^Fairclough, G. (2006, Nov 07). "Bumper crop: As barriers fall in auto business, china jumps in; geely aims to be world player, but quality woes linger; cars a new commodity?; 'copycat' accusations fly." The Wall Street Journal.
^JAMES MACKINTOSH AND, R. M. (2003). "Carmakers gamble on china". Financial Times.