Geely passed the 10 million cars sold mark earlier this year, achieving the milestone in just 23 years. Of course, having doorstep access to the world’s largest car market and the world’s most populous country helps, but competition is very tough in China, and there are countless carmakers jostling for space, many of them state-owned.

Geely Auto was founded in 1997 by current chairman Li Shufu, who believed in the potential of the Chinese auto market as his compatriots transitioned from bicycles to motorbikes to cars. The first Geely car, called the Hao Qing, was produced in 1997. The Hao Qing made history as the first privately made Chinese domestic vehicle, an alternative to popular Japanese-brand small cars that cost more than 100,000 yuan at the time (RM61,901, a 10,000 yuan per annum salary was considered high then).

First-year sales would reach 10,000 units; by 2003, sales touched 100,000 before tripling again to 326,000 in 2009. The introduction of the Emgrand series in 2009 helped to propel Geely sales into the fast lane. The new model range also saw the carmaker focus on premium, quality and performance as brand pillars.

Geely’s made its first car, the Hao Qing, in 1997

Further introduction of Emgrand models such as the Emgrand GS Crossover and Emgrand GL sedan helped to push total Emgrand sales to over three million units as of 2020. Another main contributor is the Geely Boyue, which is known as the Emgrand X7, Azkarra and of course, the Proton X70 in other markets. Since it surfaced in late 2016, Geely has sold a million of the SUVs. The Boyue consistently ranks as one of the best-selling Chinese domestic SUVs.

When Geely Auto’s parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, acquired Volvo in 2010, technological cooperation was the main goal. Today, innovations such as the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), small and efficient powertrains with electrification in mind (the 1.5TD range) and the jointly-created 7DCT gearbox are used across the Geely group, which also has Lynk & Co and Proton under its umbrella.

Amazingly, nearly half of Geely’s 10 million sales came in the past three years, testament to its rapid growth and impressive new models. With more CMA- and BMA-based vehicles coming (as well as EVs from the new SEA pure electric architecture), the road to the next 10 million vehicles is expected to be much shorter. Check out the Preface a.k.a. Xing Rui sedan and the Xing Yue SUV coupe for an example for Geely’s latest CMA range.

GALLERY: Geely Xing Yue