As more Chinese companies move into global markets, their chief executives are gaining a larger presence on the world stage. In China’s auto industry, one of the most prominent leaders is An Conghui, president of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and president and CEO of Geely Auto Group, a US$16 billion motor vehicle enterprise known for its Geely automobile brand in China, its acquisition of Volvo in 2010, and its growth as a global auto conglomerate.

The auto industry is international in scope; its companies depend on consumer markets, supply chains, and innovations from multiple countries. It is thus an industry in which companies with ambition can rapidly establish themselves on the global stage. Geely has done exactly that over the last 10 years, using the momentum of the Chinese market to turn Geely into a worldwide, customer-oriented car manufacturer. Founded in 1986 by Li Shufu as a family business that manufactured refrigerators, it rapidly diversified into consumer products, then motorcycles, vans, and automobiles.

In 2017, Geely bought a controlling stake in British sports car company Lotus, and in 2018, a 9.7 percent interest in Daimler-Benz. In March 2019 it announced a new joint venture with Daimler to produce electric Smart cars in China for the global market. And it is on the threshold of a decades-old goal: introducing a new line of automobiles to Western Europe and the United Kingdom. It will do this under the brand name Lynk & Co, developed by Volvo and Geely Auto as a premium brand positioned between the mass-market and luxury market segments. Geely is also aggressively pursuing leading-edge technology: It is working on autonomous vehicles and flying cars, or “intelligent spatial mobility terminals,” as An calls them. And it is looking closely at technology-related partnerships that can help it develop electric cars and fuel-cell powertrains.

Since 2012, when An became president of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Geely Auto has grown to be one of the leading automakers in China, after General Motors and Volkswagen. This is the first time a domestic automaker has held that role in the world’s fastest-growing motor vehicle market. Like Haier in the appliance business, Geely is reframing the world’s concept of what a Chinese company can be and how it can enter global markets.

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