20th October 2016 saw the launch of LYNK & CO, a new global car brand with the bold ambition of challenging the conventions of the automobile industry.
LYNK & CO. are a division of the Chinese Geely Auto Group. You may never have come across Geely, but for sure you‘ll have heard of Volvo, who are in fact part of Geely, as are the makers of the iconic London cab, the London Taxi Company. Indeed, LYNK & CO‘s main design and engineering centre is not as you might expect in China, but firmly in Volvo-land: Sweden.
Any new business needs unique selling points to set it apart from established competition, so what are LYNK & Co’s? Fundamentally, to produce a range of cars which use technology in new and innovative ways to benefit the user. If you will, digital cars compared to the rest of industry’s traditional analogue offerings. So, LYNK & CO. plan to introduce a new business model making and selling cars featuring technical innovations such as an open API (or systems interface), “always on” connectivity, personalized services, sharing possibilities and the first dedicated app store for cars. Clearly, LYNK & CO aim to capture the imagination of the “connected” generation of consumers whose lives revolve around their smartphones and apps such as Facebook and Snapchat.
LYNK & CO – strange name, interesting ideas
As Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of LYNK & CO, said recently, “Our industry has been refining design and engineering successfully for decades – but not so much the distribution and ownership model. 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. This is LYNK & CO – introducing a premium, state-of-the-art range of cars – at the most accessible of price points, challenging and redesigning every link in the chain. Our aim is to enrich and simplify car ownership by redefining how they are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used.”
The first car in the range is the 01, a tech-laden SUV. This will be followed by 02, 03 and so forth as a full range – reflecting the brand’s idea of simplifying and challenging industry conventions, right down to model names.
Global Design Language
Geely Design Sweden, part of Geely Design Global has developed the design philosophy for LYNK & CO with support from studios in Shanghai, Barcelona and Los Angeles. They are led by well-respected Brit Peter Horbury, who has a wealth of experience from previously holding top design jobs with both Volvo and Ford.
To quote Geely Design’s Andreas Nilsson, “The design brief for LYNK & CO was simple: the cars should stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience. 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.”
Compact Modular Architecture
Engineering and technology for the new range has been developed by CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology), the shared Geely and Volvo research centre. The new LYNK & CO 01, and others in the forthcoming line-up of LYNK & CO cars, is based on their CMA (Compact Modular Architecture). This is an advanced platform package capable of accommodating many body styles and sizes, which also underpins Volvo’s new compact car range as well as many upcoming Geely models. CMA is able to accommodate a wide range of different powertrains, electrical systems, passive and active safety systems and technologies.
Mats Fägerhag, CEO of CEVT, commented “We have engineers with decades of experience at some of the world’s best car manufacturers developing the new range of LYNK & CO models. A close working relationship with Geely and Volvo, and years of intense digital and physical testing have delivered really outstanding results. The architecture and the range of powertrains we have developed are state-of-the-art, helping us produce vehicles that are strong, lightweight, efficient, fun to drive and packed full of technology.”
The core and heart of the LYNK & CO brand is connectivity. Customers will find a range of connected technologies in the vehicles, all aimed at making life easier. 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 storage system. The car has a share button, enabling the owner to provide others with access to the vehicle via a shareable digital key. Via the LYNK & CO app, they control, monitor and share their car from a smartphone – or directly from the car.
David Green, Chief Digital Officer of LYNK & CO notes that “While other car brands are undergoing a digital transformation, LYNK & CO is born digital. 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 …………… – from researching and purchase and all the way through to owning, sharing, servicing and re-selling.”
LYNK & CO have worked with technology leaders such as Microsoft, Ericsson and Alibaba to explore a whole new digital customer infrastructure for the car industry. This digital platform features an API open to third party developers, which will provide endless opportunities to personalize, enrich and expand the experience.
Renowned Swedish safety
The new LYNK & CO 01 and all future models are expected to be at the cutting edge of the sector in terms of vehicle safety, thanks to the expertise and legacy from the Volvo Safety Centre. Using a highly advanced front structure, the amount of crash energy absorbed in a controlled way through the side beams and crash structures is maximized.
All LYNK & CO models are developed to meet the latest top rating for European, US and Chinese public domain safety ratings.
As well as all its passive safety features, the LYNK & CO 01 will feature Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB), Pedestrian Detection with automatic emergency braking, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
Powertrains – electrification for all
The LYNK & CO range, beginning with the LYNK & CO 01, will be available with a range of ultra-efficient powertrains.
The engines will allow for fuel economy figures and performance among the best in their class. A state-of-the-art seven-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT) developed by CEVT will be available across the line-up, alongside a manual gearbox. All models will also offer both full electric and hybrid powertrains.
A new business model
While the rest of the car industry uses dealerships to sell and service their products, LYNK & CO will interact directly with its customers. Their cars will be sold online or in owned stores in strategic retail locations, with fixed and transparent prices. Cars will be delivered, and picked up for service, directly at the door of the consumer. New solutions for car usage and access will also be offered – from traditional ownership and leasing to subscription and sharing-membership.
With traditional dealership costs claimed to be in the region of 25 percent of the price of a car, LYNK & CO’s efficient business model promises to deliver significant savings, reflected in highly competitive pricing.
All inclusive but personalized
LYNK & CO have also abandoned the traditional concept of low-spec. base models supported by long option lists that create infinite build configurations and costs in manufacturing, and lure the customer into paying far more for their new car than originally intended. Inspired by the fashion and technology sectors, conventional “trim levels and option lists” will be replaced with a simple selection of fully equipped, fixed-price collections themed to meet customer preferences.
The LYNK & CO 01 will go on sale in China in 2017, followed by Europe and the U.S.
Interested? Find out more here: www.lynkco.com