In May 2018, Chinese car giant Geely, unveiled to the world its “Geely Intelligent Power”, the Hangzhou-based company’s strategy to becoming a global leader in new energy technology as well as in hastening the adoption of new energy technologies around the world.
New energy refers to any energy source other than fossil fuels, regarded as the biggest single source of the global temperature increase.
An Conghui, president of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and CEO and president of Geely Auto Group bared in that launch ceremony that they have invested far above the industry average in Research&Development, established four global R&D centers with over 2,500 world-class new energy researchers, created an innovative new energy R&D system, developed new vehicle architecture technology, and received hundreds of patents for core technologies.
Two years later, Geely prides itself of several models that are less or no longer dependent on fossil fuels, including the so-called mild hybrid variants that remain as close to traditional vehicles as possible in terms of functionality as well as price tag—a great way to introduce car buyers to new mobility ecosystem (that include plug-in hybrids and fully-electric vehicles).
Mild hybrids like the recently launched Luxury variant of Geely Azkarra might well be the preferred choice for many car buyers who don’t want yet to be dealing with charging and the like, but still have an interest in reducing their fuel dependency and shrinking their carbon footprint.
When one drives the Azkarra, its mild hybrid system has the ability to recover brake energy to charge its 48-volt battery (this is a separate pack from the standard car car battery) whenever the driver slows down. An integrated starter generator uses this energy to momentarily support the Azkarra’s 1.5 liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine. Together, this gives the driver a more fuel-efficient and smoother driving experience.
Perhaps its main draw, the top-of-the-line Luxury all-wheel drive variant of the Azkarra has a price tag of P1.598 million, which is more attractive price-wise than full hybrids or plug-in hybrids (its Premium front-wheel drive and non hybrid variant has a price tag of P1.438 million).
With its price tag, Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP), the official distributor of the Geely brand in the country, was somehow able to undercut a number of its close competition like the Honda CR-V (priced between P1.668 million and P 2.138 million); the Hyundai Tucson (between P1.368 million and P1.885 million); the Subaru Forester (between P1.648 million and P2.12 million); and the Toyota RAV4 (between P1.771 million and P2.244 million).
“The integration of the mild hybrid technology to the Luxury variant is a bold step for Geely as a new challenger in the Philippine automotive industry. Right now, we see that the auto industry is gearing toward hybrid and electric vehicle technology as it becomes increasingly popular,” said SGAP president and CEO Mikihisa Takayama.
He added that the Azkarra’s Energy Motor Synergy (EMS) system features a 48-volt belt-starter generator, a 48-volt, 12 DC-DC converter (converts one DC voltage to another), 48-volt lithium-ion battery module, and battery management system (BMS). This system allows the gasoline engine to charge the EMS battery while cruising, charges the same battery whenever brake is applied (regenerative braking), as well as switches the engine off temporarily during brief stops in traffic (reduces fuel consumption, which in turn contributes to reduced exhaust emissions).
Both the Luxury and the Premium variants of the Azkarra is powered by a 1.5 liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine jointly developed by Geely and Volvo. But while the Premium generates 177hp and 255Nm of torque, the Luxury variant’s EMS mild hybrid system provides additional power of 10kW and 50Nm of torque to engine performance, enabling this variant to generate a total of 190hp and 200Nm of torque.
The Premium Azkarra has a six-speed automatic transmission while the Luxury Azkarra boasts a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. According to Geely, the 7-speed DCT, co-developed with Volvo, is another piece ground-breaking technology. This transmission specially developed for hybrid powertrains have a transmission efficiency of 97 percent and according to the company, it improves fuel economy by an astronomical 42.4 percent and improves power by 24 percent.
Completely redesigned from its first-generation model that was launched in 2016, this five-seater compact crossover features a restrained yet tasteful interior design language brand level technology into the Azkarra. A 12.3-inch infotainment panel dominates the dashboard, which complements its 7-inch full-color LCD instrument panel. Apart from music, movies, safety settings, and compatibility with most mobile phone OS, the infotainment panel also converts into a full-range 360-degree panoramic camera that captures HD images of what is around the vehicle to eliminate blind spots and improve safety.
Apart from being equipped with a panoramic starry sky sunroof (18 percent glass transmittance, 100 percent shading efficiency, and maximum anti-reflection and UV protection), the Luxury Azkarra upgrades its interior with Nappa leather on all seats as well as a Qi wireless smartphone charger.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, SGAP also assured buyers that all Geely vehicles, including both variants of the Azkarra are already equipped with CN95 filters. Other safety kit offered in the Azkarra include six airbags, ABS plus EBD, traction control system, electronic stability control, hill start assist, overspeed warning as well as hill descent control.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.