Geely is going great guns in China, it seems – the company has announced that it sold a total of 1,247,116 vehicles last year, surpassing the previous year’s sales by 63% and beating its own sales target of 1.1 million units. The latter figure was already revised upwards by 10% in the middle of last year.

The part-owner of Proton credited its strong sales performance on the continued success of its third-generation models, which went on sale starting in 2015. The Boyue – which will become the basis of Proton’s first ever SUV this year – was the biggest star, with sales surpassing 30,000 units per month. The company sold 31,205 units of the midsize crossover in December, putting the year’s total at 286,900 units.

Also enjoying a great month in December was the smaller Emgrand GS, which reached a new high of 18,850 units sold, contributing to a total of more than 150,000 units in 2017. Meanwhile, the New Emgrand retained its sales crown in China’s A+ class sedan segment with 25,074 units sold in December and over 264,400 units over the entire year.

Lastly, 14,088 units of the more sophisticated Emgrand GL sedan were sold in December and more than 145,000 units over the whole of 2017. In total, Geely sold 153,625 vehicles in December, an increase of around 42% over the same period the year before. Due to encouraging sales, the company has set a 2018 sales target of 1.58 million units, including Lynk & Co models – far higher than the expected market growth.

Geely said that its success last year was also due to its repositioning as a technology leader, with the launch of its flagship research and development centre in Ningbo employing more than 10,000 research staff. It has also introduced its iNTEC brand of vehicle technologies that focuses on five key areas – safety, connectivity, powertrain, interior environment and assisted driving.

Additionally, the company leveraged on its strength in the sedan market while pivoting towards SUVs – this balanced development of sedans and SUVs has resulted in stable growth across key segments and improved the brand’s competitiveness, performance and image.

Upgrades to its sales and service network has also contributed to the success, with the company ranking first among Chinese brands in the JD Power 2017 China Customer Service Index (CSI) – it scored 735 points, above the industry average of 703 points.

More impressive than the numbers themselves is the customer shift towards higher-priced premium models, with vehicles priced between 81,000 yuan (RM50,000) and 150,000 yuan (RM92,400) making up 60% of all vehicles sold. Over 50% of sales were made up of first- and second-tier cities in China, with increasing demand from young urban consumers born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Plans for 2018 include a greater focus on the development of more refined cars, as well as a continuation of its sales and service upgrade. Geely will also be launching more than 10 new models including sedans, SUVs, crossovers and MPVs, while the iNTEC brand of technologies will see a deeper integration in upcoming products. The company already took the first steps towards revolutionising the traditional automotive business with the launch of the Lynk & Co 01 SUV and its online sales model in November 2017.