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New brand Lynk & Co throws out the rule book

Volvo engineering and no traditional dealers for Geely-owned brand.

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Lynk & Co promises to be a new and very different car-buying option for UK customers within the next couple of years.

The new brand is being launched by Chinese giant Geely Auto Group, owner of Volvo, and its creators promise to “challenge the conventions of the automobile industry.”

The first model, an SUV called simply the Lynk & Co 01, will launch in China in 2017, followed by Europe and the US. It will not be sold through traditional car dealers but online and in ‘stores’ in retail centres, along similar lines to those opened recently by Hyundai and Jaguar Land Rover in major shopping centres such as Bluewater.

This, according to Lynk & Co is part of a new business model that will see the brand interacting directly with its customers. Prices will be fixed and transparent, options to drive the cars will range from traditional ownership and leasing to subscription and sharing-membership, and cars will be delivered, and picked up for service, directly at the door of the customer.

Lynk & Co management say that as distribution typically reflects some 25 per cent of the cost of a car, its business model will enable highly competitive pricing.

There will be no traditional trim levels either – cars will be sold with ‘collections’ of options that the makers say will offer far greater value. “(We have) abandoned the traditional concept of meagre base models and long option lists that create infinite build configurations and costs in manufacturing,” a company spokesman said.

The 01, an SUV, is Lynk & Co's launch model.
The 01 is Lynk & Co’s launch model.

“Inspired by the fashion and technology sectors, Lynk & Co has replaced ‘trim levels and option lists’ with a simple selection of fully equipped, fixed-price collections themed to meet customer preferences.”

The 01 (which will be followed by the 02, 03 and so on in another example of simplifying conventional industry practice) uses the benefit of Geely’s ownership of Volvo to the full. It has been fully engineered in Sweden and sits on the CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform that the Swedish manufacturer developed for its latest models.

Use of the CMA enables the car to accommodate many varieties of powertrains and Lynk & Co intends to offer electric versions of all of its models.

The design benchmark for the 01 is said to be premium and popular compact SUVs across the globe. Its exterior look has been created by Geely’s Swedish design studio with input from further studios in Shanghai, Barcelona and Los Angeles, led by design director Peter Horbury, who formerly headed Volvo’s design team.

“The design brief for Lynk & Co was simple: the cars should stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience,” said Andreas Nilsson, head of Geely Design Sweden.

“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.”

Lynk & Co is also describing itself as “born digital” – connected services will be central to every model and all cars will come with a large central touchscreen and telematics systems that are always connected to the internet and the car’s own cloud.

Novel aspects include a button that will allow owners to provide other people with access to the car using a shareable digital key. An app will allow control, monitoring and sharing of the car from a smartphone.

Lynk & Co cars will also benefit from Volvo’s renowned safety technology, and company personnel expect their cars to top safety tests across the globe.

Lynk & Co head Alain Visser is confident that his company can change the way cars are built, sold and lived with. “Our industry has been refining design and engineering successfully for decades – but not so much the distribution and ownership model,” he said.

“Our customers’ values and preferences have evolved dramatically. It is time for us to step into the future and reinvent the model to become a comprehensive solution for mobility and lifestyle.

“Our aim is to enrich and simplify car ownership by redefining how they are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.