SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding on Tuesday unveiled a new electric pickup truck, targeting growing demand from city residents as coronavirus curbs fuel an interest in outdoor activities like camping.

The Volvo owner also launched a new brand, RADAR, at an online event on Tuesday where it showcased its first pickup product R6. It did not disclose its selling price but said it would have a driving range of more than 600 kilometres per charge.

“In an optimistic estimation, the annual sales of pickup trucks can reach 3 million units in China by 2030,” CEO of RADAR Ling Shiquan told Reuters in an interview.

“More people are pursing a healthy lifestyle with more outdoor activities while the governments are also relaxing restrictions for pickups in cities. Those changes are supporting the growth of pickup trucks,” Ling added.

Pickups are considered a niche segment in China where they are mostly used by farmers. They are still banned from most urban roads despite trials since 2016 allowing entry to select areas in several cities and urging from Beijing to speed up the removal of red tape.

Such vehicles contributed around 2% of China’s auto sales last year, with growth outpacing that of other segments including sedans and sports utility vehicles.

Interest in the vehicles is growing among the country’s urban residents who are taking up outdoor pursuits as COVID-19 measures discourage gatherings and severely hit domestic and international travel.

Nonetheless, sales of pickups fell 10.3% in the first five months of this year, against a 13% fall in passenger vehicles more broadly, data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed, with the industry also hit by COVID restrictions.

Ling said Geely aims to start offering the R6 to Chinese consumers in the fourth quarter while the company is also studying the Southeast Asian market for potential expansion opportunities.

Geely may also seek to bring the trucks to the United States, the world’s largest pickup market, to compete with the existing players such as Ford, Tesla and Rivian, Ling said.

China’s pickup market is currently dominated by Hebei-based Great Wall Motor, while foreign players include Ford’s F-150 Raptor and a $9,000 pickup truck launched by General Motors with its local joint venture last year.

Geely previously rolled out a pickup with a combustion engine priced from 119,900 yuan ($17,815.75) two years ago.

($1 = 6.7300 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Zhang Yan, Brenda Goh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)