The cars may even be able to schedule their own maintenance and learn their owners' interests.
In somewhat unexpected but interesting news, China's Geely is planning a significant investment to turn the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) into a high-volume, EV-only brand with a lineup of commercial and passenger vehicles. Geely purchased the struggling LEVC, famous for its black cabs, back in 2013.
According to Reuters, the plan also aims to expand LEVC's services, which could include things like future vehicles arranging their own maintenance visits and even recognizing their owner's interests to help them set their calendars. "We need a developed product portfolio. We need to make big investments in terms of technology and infrastructure," LEVC Chief Executive Alex Nan said at the company's headquarters in Coventry, England. "Geely will make consistent investments into LEVC because this is a very unique project."
Geely is no stranger to buying Western automakers. Its portfolio currently includes Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus. Its latest brand, Zeekr, filed for a US IPO last month.
There's no word yet whether the new LEVC lineup will utilize an existing EV platform, such as the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that underpins the Volvo XC40 Recharge, or if a new one will be developed from scratch. LEVC currently builds a hybrid black taxi with a battery range of 64 miles, and a gasoline-engine range extender brings the total range to over 300 miles. The pandemic hit the taxi maker particularly hard, and many layoffs resulted.
This latest news is precisely the type of jolt LEVC needs. The amount Geely plans to invest will be announced later, but up until now, it's pumped in $614 million.
"Geely fully supports the new transition strategy laid out by LEVC's board and executive team," Geely said in a follow-up statement. Geely has a proven history of investing serious money in carmakers it acquires. Lotus, for example, saw a $2.5 billion investment back in 2021, which resulted in many positive results.
To help cut costs, future LEVC EVs will likely take advantage of the Geely parts bin, such as using software and infotainment systems developed by Volvo.
LEVC managing director Chris Allen is very bullish about the company's prospects. "There's nothing we couldn't deliver in a very short time period if we needed to, but it's just a question of timing," he said. "But in two years' time, is the industry going to be ready, is the charging infrastructure going to be there, is consumer confidence going to be there?" The company can already build 3,000 taxis annually on a single shift, but this can be boosted to 20,000. The facility also has physical room for expansion.
"This is about growing LEVC into a much more recognizable brand on a global scale and expanding our product offering into as many spaces as we can."
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