Zeekr Mix: VW ID Buzz rival radically rethinks the family car

Geely electric brand electric Zeekr has reimagined the family MPV in a space-liberating redesign that harks back to the original Renault Espace in how it radically rethinks the passenger space.

The Zeekr Mix stretches its wheelbase, loses the central B-pillar and adds twin sliding doors that open like those on a train to create a 1.5-metre access to the cabin, a gap that Zeekr claims is “the widest in the history of automotive”.

The new car, styled by former Bentley head of design Stefan Sielaff, maximises the space liberated by electric platform by ensuring the wheels are pushed right to the edge to give the longest possible wheelbase to length ratio. 

The 4688mm long car has a wheelbase of 3008mm, making it 24mm shorter and 58mm wider than the  Volkswagen ID Buzz but with a wheelbase that’s 20mm longer.

The Mix, which will join the Zeekr 001 mid-sized ‘shooting brake’ and Zeekr X compact SUV in the Chinese brand’s line-up, uses an adapted version of Geely Group’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform dubbed SEA-M (M for mobility) which also underpins the new bespoke robotaxis Zeekr makes for Google self-driving car unit Waymo.

The platform separates the shock absorbers from the springs and uses a slimmer electric motor to flatten the platform, and increase the space between the rear wheel arches. Slimmer tyres reduce the width of the wheel arches themselves, creating seating for three across the back as well as the front. The seats can swivel and be pushed back to create a space big enough to create a play area for kids when the car is parked, Zeekr claimed.

The wide access and low side clearance of 390mm make it perfect for access not just for children but also older people and the disable, Zeekr said.

The redesign of the front suspension allows a a wider turning angle for the front wheels, giving the car a claimed minimum turning radius of less than 5 metres. By contrast the Ford Puma has a turning radius of more than 10 metres, a typical figure from its class.

The doors return the structural stiffness lost in cutting out the B-pillar by adding extra high-strength reinforcements, which increases the material strength of the traditional B-pillar by 33%, Zeekr claimed

Information included in official documents submitted to the Chinese government confirms the Mix receives a battery developed in partnership between CATL and Geely, potentially the 86kWh pack used by the Zeekr 001, which is equipped with 800V hardware for 360kW fast charging.

The production version of the Mix, which will be very close to the show concept according to Sielaff, opens up an under-served market for family-friendly MPVs. “The MPV market is growing in China, but normally they are about five meters, which for some family customers is too big and expensive,” Mars Chen, head of Zeekr emerging markets, told journalists at the Beijing motor show.

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