Geely Holding Group has emerged as the largest domestic carmaker in China this year. It is poised to defend its growing market share with a wave of models under its newly created Lynk & CO brand.
But the private Chinese company still has a long way to go before becoming a truly global player, one that international brands have to reckon with.
For many years, it was hard to tell which domestic brand would dominate China's fast-growing market. Until last year, Geely lagged behind Changan Auto and Great Wall.
But now Geely has outsold its domestic rivals to become the largest Chinese car brand.
In the first four months of this year, Geely sales surged 94 percent to more than 365,000 vehicles on demand for four new compact models -- one sedan and three crossovers -- that went on sale in 2016.
And the company is on track to sustain the pace of sales growth. This year, the automaker will roll out three new models: a compact crossover and a multipurpose vehicle for the Geely brand, and a compact crossover for Lynk.
Geely is gaining market share with models built on platforms that it jointly developed with Volvo Car Corp.
Chief designer Peter Horbury -- Volvo's former design chief -- also has helped Geely to break free from the copycat styling that once defined Chinese brands.
By contrast, Geely's rivals are struggling to fix fundamental weaknesses.
Changan and Great Wall have been slow to upgrade their product lineups due to weak r&d. And BYD Co., China's largest electric vehicle maker, is struggling to attract EV buyers as Beijing pares sales subsidies.
Aided by Volvo's technology support, Geely is leaving other Chinese carmakers in the dust. But the company is not content with its domestic gains. Now it wants to expand overseas.
Geely's first big global move came in 2010, when it acquired Volvo from Ford. It followed up in 2013 with the purchase of Manganese Bronze Holding, which produces the iconic London taxis.
And now Geely plans to purchase a 49.9 percent stake in Malaysian carmaker Proton, along with a 51 percent share in Lotus, Proton's UK sports-car brand.
While Geely is determined to expand the global reach of all its brands, its track record has been mixed.
Volvo has achieved a dramatic turnaround but the Swedish brand remains a niche player on the global market.
Even in China, its largest market worldwide, Volvo trails far behind BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi -- each of which sells more than 46,000 vehicles a month.
Geely so far has yet to return the Manganese Bronze line to profitability, despite efforts to cut costs by building taxis in China.
Undaunted, Geely is expanding into Europe and the United States with its Lynk-badged vehicles. But that is no easy task either.
Lynk shares a compact car platform with Volvo, which should be a strong selling point.
But it will be expensive and time-consuming for Lynk to build dealership networks and brand recognition. That's why Geely is delaying Lynk's launch in Europe and the U.S. to 2019 from late 2018.
It will be equally challenging for the Chinese carmaker to revive Proton and Lotus.
Proton was set up in 1983 by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Although he has retired, Mahathir still exerts tremendous political clout in Malaysia.
And in recent years, he has cautioned the country not to rely on Chinese investments. That bodes ill for Geely's partnership with Proton.
With Volvo's technology, Geely has become China's largest domestic carmaker. But the company soon will discover that its overseas expansion will be slow and arduous.