Unless you’re familiar with the Chinese car market, you can be forgiven for not having heard of Geely. The multinational giant, based in China, does however own a few Western companies that may be on your radar – including Volvo and The London Taxi Company.
Geely is now launching a new car company, Lynk & Co, which it’s hoping will be a major player in the European automotive market.
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The Lynk & Co 01
Lynk & Co has revealed its first model, the Lynk & Co 01 – an upmarket SUV which is set to go on sale in Europe in 2018. It’s based on the same CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform as the forthcoming Volvo XC40 SUV, as well as the Volvo V40 hatch and S40 saloon.
More models on their way
The firm says it believes in “simplifying and challenging industry conventions,” with this extending as far as the model’s names. That’s why the first car will be the Lynk & Co 01, the second one Lynk & Co 02, thirdly the Lynk & Co 03… etc.
It hasn’t confirmed exactly what we can expect from subsequent models, but it’s fair to assume they’ll bring along a hatch, saloon and crossover. They’ll probably all be based on the same Volvo CMA platform.
What engines will Lynk & Co use?
Expect a choice of three- and four-cylinder engines derived from Volvo’s line-up. Being a futuristic company, we’ll see a degree of electrification, and – while diesels are apparently being considered – it’s turbo petrols that make up the bulk of sales.
A seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox has been confirmed, while a manual ’box will also be offered.
The design is… different
To successfully launch a new brand, Lynk & Co is taking a bold approach to design. Despite being designed in Gothenburg, it looks very different to Volvo’s range.
“The design brief for Lynk & Co was simple: the cars should stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience,” says Geely Design Sweden’s head, Andreas Nilsson.
“From a distance, we have a European design approach. Get closer, and you see more and more detail, such as the intricate lights, and the type of grain on the interior leather. A strong wide grille completes the distinctive ‘face’ of the car. We wanted to acknowledge that our users are extremely tech-savvy – a smartphone is an integral part of their lives and our interior design reflects that and feels familiar in the context of new technology.”
We can definitely see an element of Kia Sorento in the design of the 01 and, if you squint, there’s a hint of XC90 at the rear…
It’s hot on in-car connectivity
Like it or not, no futuristic car company is going to survive without more than an element of connectivity. Lynk & Co says its at the core of its brand, with all models permanently online. Each model with come with a large central touchscreen – something Tesla introduced with the Model S in 2012.
“While other car brands are undergoing a digital transformation, Lynk & Co is born digital,” explains chief digital officer David Green.
“The lack of legacy systems and the ability to build solutions in the cloud enable us to depart from the old model of car sales and service to bring the customer seamlessly through an omnichannel platform, with intuitive interaction at every touchpoint – from researching and purchase and all the way through to owning, sharing, servicing and re-selling.”
Lynk & Co’s cloud will be developed in unison with Ericsson with help from Microsoft and Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba to “explore a whole new digital customer infrastructure for the car industry”.
Tell me more about Lynk & Co’s sales platform
Lynk & Co will be bypassing the current – rather old-fashioned – car sales process. Rather than going to a franchised dealer to buy an 01, customers will buy one online or directly from a manufacture-owned showroom.
Prices are fixed – there’s no room for negotiation, says Lynk & Co – but they’ll be ‘highly competitive’. The car manufacturer suggests it could save as much as 25% by avoiding the traditional dealership model and these savings will be passed onto the customer.
Although Lynk & Co isn’t turning its back on traditional ownership just yet – apparently we’re not ready – it will look at offering subscription-based and shared membership services, meaning you won’t necessarily have to buy a car to drive a Lynk & Co vehicle. Instead, you’ll pay a monthly fee and only have access to the car when you need it.
How much will it cost?
So, with all this talk about prices, how much can we expect to pay for a Lynk & Co car? The firm is currently remaining tight-lipped about the price of a new Lynk & Co 01, but some outlets are reporting it’ll start at around £16,000 if you want to buy one outright.