A car is car, right? Not if you’re Lynk & Co, the upmarket brand from Chinese owned holding Group Geely, who according to a recent press release, described their vehicle as “the new global mobility brand, addressing the needs and preferences of the connected generation”.
Before you sneer at such idealistic brand claims, it’s worth taking a step back to consider what they mean and more importantly, who they are.
Lynk & Co’s owners, Geely, are one of the largest automotive manufacturers in China. Backed by a surging home market they are swimming in cash, so much so that in 2010 they purchased Volvo cars from the Ford Motor Company. All this despite the fact that Geely, as a group, only launched in 1996.
While Volvo represents the premium end of the Geely portfolio, Lynk and Co appears to be positioned an aspiring second, sitting above a plethora of volume brands mainly produced for Asian markets.
Lynk & Co launched into the Chinese market in December 2017 and are planning launches into Europe and the US through the next two years. An announcement in March this year stated that they would begin production of hybrid-only electrified models at a Volvo facility in Ghent, Belgium from 2019. It also announced its first store would open in Amsterdam, soon followed by outlets in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and London. Further pop-up stores will appear in central “fashion districts”, suggesting an all-out targeting of urban elite, design and tech-conscious buyers.
In China all cars are sold in one standard high-spec trim level, fixed at a single no-quibble price. Cars can either be purchased directly by the manufacturer through a network of company owned stores, or via e-commerce giant Alibaba. Lynk & Co then handle delivery directly to the buyer’s home. Servicing is managed via a pick-up and return service. All very convenient and formulaic, all questioning the need for a network of dealers to sell and service vehicles.
Where things really get interesting however, is their range of ownership options. While you could go orthodox and buy the car through conventional cash purchase or finance channels, a further option is designed to support shared ownership. Using a smartphone App connected to the Lynk & Co cloud, the car’s keys are replaced by a buy and share scheme that will allow shared-owners to rent a car and automatically split costs according to usage. The system, rather like apartment renting via AirBnB, will proactively match owners and renters. It doesn’t take much of a science fiction mind to imagine the next step will be fully autonomous cars turning up at your doorstep minutes after making an App request.
In a further nod to technology, the App has been designed with an open Application Programming Interface (API), enabling third party developers to integrate additional features to append to the car's functionality. Again, the repercussions could be mind-blowing, with developers and commercial companies alike lining-up to integrate all kinds of media, shopping and location-based services to dial-up at the swipe of a high definition interface.
What are your thoughts? A car is a deeply personal space representing freedom and safety. In many cases, a local car dealer is a person you trust – someone you can turn to if anything goes wrong.
With the prospect of easy and convenient shared ownership and ride hailing through Uber, Lyft and the like, it’s little wonder that an October 2018 Cox Automotive survey suggests that 28% of US car dealers and 18% of US consumers surveyed, think there will be a significant decrease in personal vehicle ownership over the next 5-years.
How do you see your purchase choices changing in the future? Could you go for the Lynk & Co shared ownership purchase model?