Lynk & Co; a name that cultivates a myriad of different images. To me it sounds like one of those boyband hybrids that will no doubt feature H from Steps. It is in fact the brainchild from Geely-Volvo, built by Geely in China, designed and engineered in Europe. I was dispatched to Amsterdam earlier this week to investigate the 3rd instalment from Lynk & Co the crossover SUV called the 02, where it also unveiled plans to open "brand boutiques" across Europe. Following in the tracks of Tesla, Lynk & Co will sell direct to consumers online, ditching traditional third-party dealerships to open its own "Offline Stores", opting for "small, sociable brand boutiques in urban districts".
What's its USP?
To quote Dr Emmett Brown, "This suckers electrical!" Not in an eco-friendly way but in a connected way. Owners will be able to customise their cars digitally, both by reconfiguring the main touchscreen display in the centre of the dashboard and by downloading apps. Lynk & Co Senior Vice President, Alain Visser, said “Think of it as a smartphone on wheels.” Whilst this is not reinventing the wheel pardon the pun, Lynk & Co claims to be the first that will allow third-party development of apps for its cars.
Apps will potentially work with a standard shareable lock system, through which vehicle owners could give time-limited access to their cars to other people through encrypted digital keys that can be used to unlock the car using a mobile phone. A bit like AirBNB for cars or perhaps a closer comparison is Zip Car, which has mixed reviews. The consensus being the marketing is great but the service delivery is very problematic.
You'll unlock the car with your smartphone, you'll pay on subscription much like you do with your mobile phone, you could get your Amazon packages delivered direct to your car while you're away or have your car serviced from outside your house while you’re still asleep. (Best leave a note-to-self that you arranged that one though, otherwise it's going to be a quick idiosyncratic combination of shock, horror, cursing the heavens, phoning the police, sober-realisation, embarrassment finished with an awesome wave of orgasmic relief).
Will it work?
Why not? The prototype attracted 6000 orders in 137 seconds when made it debuted at the Shanghai motor show, a new world record for the fastest-selling car in the world according to the brand. The aforementioned Tesla model seems to be doing ok. Lynk & Co is also considering following Tesla’s lead by paying existing owners for referral sales. They can circumvent the average distribution cost of circa 25% by selling direct to the consumer.
They've also hedged their bets a little by releasing this as a subsidiary, as was highlighted by a reviewer on Backfires 'why invest all that money and time in a completely new brand instead of spending it on strengthening Geely and Volvo?'
Who is it for?
Aimed at the innovative young professional demographic. Obviously business execs that flit between cities for work, hence the announcement of their first new design partnership with Tictail – the online marketplace home to emerging designers. Entitled The City Dweller Series, this first collection will be launched in the summer and will be available as a limited launch series exclusively through Tictail.
The first Lynk & Co outlet will open in Amsterdam, followed by Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and London. There will be an online store, Lynkco.com, where customers can purchase or "subscribe" to a car purely using on the web. The European production base will be in Ghent, Belgium, the manufacturing base for sister company Volvo Cars.