► New Lynk & Co 01 to be made in Europe
► Hybrid powertrains boost efficiency
► Purchase and rental options available
Two-and-a-half years after revealing the 01 SUV as its debut model, Lynk & Co has finally revealed details of how you will be able to get hold of one when they start arriving in Britain in 2021, with both traditional purchasing and flexible subscription services set to be available.
Lynk & Co is a new brand created by Geely, the Chinese giant that also owns Volvo and Lotus. In fact, the 01 will be manufactured on the same production line as the nifty XC40, convenient given that their shared Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform was designed by an international team in Gothenburg, Sweden.
‘We will manufacture in Europe, for Europe, focusing initially on hybrid-only electrified derivatives of our new range of cars,’ Lynk & Co senior vice president Alain Visser said. ‘Our vehicles share the innovative platform with Volvo, therefore it makes absolute sense that we commence European production for Lynk & Co alongside a brand with the absolute trustmark and global recognition in safety, quality, design and international appeal.’
For everything else you need to know about the debut Lynk & Co, keep reading.
Lynk & Co: the background
After a bit of a delay from the original plans to commence sales before 2018 was out, continental European customers will be able to get their hands on the Lynk & Co 01 before the end of 2020.
Key to the offering is simplicity: there will be no franchised dealers, no extra-cost options and membership-based mobility solutions that allows customers to simply rent the car for the period they need if they don't want or need to buy it in the more traditional sense. It also boasts industry-leading over-the-air connectivity.
Technically the 01 is very similar to the well-regarded Volvo XC40 SUV. It shares the XC40’s CMA platform, hybrid drivetrains and many of its advanced safety systems.
Where is the new 01 SUV engineered?
Although the company is Chinese owned, Lynk & Co cars are designed and engineered in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg. Many senior executives are ex-Volvo and much of the technology – including the new CMA platform – is shared with Volvo. Cars should be technically ‘state of the art’, particularly with regards to active and passive safety.
In one key technical area, connectivity, Lynk & Co makes bold claims for leadership. ‘Just as Volvo has leadership in safety, so we want leadership in connectivity,’ says Lynk & Co senior vice president (and ex-Volvo marketing boss) Alain Visser.
All cars have a large 10.1-inch configurable central touchscreens and telematics that are always connected to the internet and the car’s own cloud. A dedicated app allows the owner to monitor and control many of the car’s features remotely, while notifications for getting the 01 serviced will also be shared over-the-air. There's even an on-board social media camera to capture passengers' TikTok telegenics.
What’s this about car sharing? Is it a key focus of the brand?
A ‘share my car’ button on the touchscreen gives other drivers the opportunity to rent your vehicle, using a digital key. Visser expects it to be a popular feature. ‘Many traditional car buyers may not like the idea of sharing their car, but that’s changing. Today’s customer wants mobility, not necessarily to own a car.’ Younger people – unexcited by today’s cars – are a key target, adds Visser.
Mobility members who need access to the car will be sent the necessary code via their smartphones, enabling their device to be used as an electronic key.
Members can also subscribe to use a car longer-term, with a month-by-month option more akin to a typical leasing agreement. Provisionally this is set to cost up to €500 per month (around £450), but unlike most PCH deals you can end it with a month's notice.
A new collaboration with Microsoft and Chinese giant Alibaba has built a big digital infrastructure, including configuring, purchasing, delivery and access to all customer services. A separate deal with Ericsson has created the car connectivity cloud, which can be personalised. As third party developers engineer more apps, so the car’s range of digital abilities expands.
Can I visit a dealership to buy one, or will it all be done online?
Another innovation is the retail model. All Lynk & Co cars will be sold directly on line or in Lynk & Co-owned clubs, which will gradually appear across major European cities.
Prices are fixed and transparent. Cars will be delivered to customers, after purchase, and collected for servicing. Although carmakers have been talking about this retail model for years, no mainstream maker practises it – partly because of pressure from strong independent retailers.
As well as conventional sales and leasing, Lynk & Co will also offer a subscription sales model – like renting your iPhone from Vodafone – and also shared membership, where you buy limited use of a vehicle.
Are there any personalisation opportunities at all?
Another major departure is the lack of any options - there are no extras to mull over as 'everything extra comes as standard'.
Instead, as with fashion, there will be 10 collections every year, each with different design and technical priorities. This makes the manufacturing and ordering process much easier. By eliminating the conventional distribution model, Visser claims Lynk & Co can save 25-30 per cent of total costs compared with a conventional carmaker.
Company bosses claim the technology will be at premium car levels, yet overall pricing should be similar to mainstream makers such as Ford or Toyota – possibly less.
The Lynk & Co 01 is a distinctively styled SUV, sized just above the Audi Q3, with high-mounted blade-style running lights, wide horizontal grille flanked by discreet headlamps and a sharp-edged chunky looks. Englishman Peter Horbury, Geely’s design boss and the former design chief of both Volvo and Ford in North America, oversaw the styling. He said it was an extraordinary and exciting challenge, designing a new car from a new brand. ‘There is no past to influence us. Only a future.’
What kind of powertrains will be offered?
Engines are hybridised with both self-charging and plug-in varieties available. Don't expect a diesel, but a fully electric version is likely in due course. There’s also a choice of two- or four-wheel drive.
Intriguingly, one of Lynk & Co’s goals is to persuade the Chinese to buy more Chinese cars. Currently many of the big selling nameplates in China are Western, Japanese or Korean. Geely wants the Chinese to covet a Chinese brand – even if it was developed in the West.
The goal is to sell 500,000 cars a year globally by 2021, by which point there should be five distinct Lynk & Co models – called 01 through to 05 – likely to include a hatch, saloon and crossover. China will be responsible for half of all sales.
According to Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson, who attended the 2018 unveiling, Lynk & Co is also great news for Volvo. ‘It gives us much better economies of scale. It gives Geely access to Volvo technology. This is a real win-win for both brands.’
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