Geely, parent company of Volvo, introduced a new car brand today called Lynk & Co. We traveled to Berlin to get a first look at what’s touted as the ‘Ultimate Connected SUV.’
BERLIN, GERMANY — The designers at Lynk & Co saw stagnation within the automobile industry. Using a development center for future cars, the China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) group came forth with Lynk & Co touting a new generation of automobile innovation.
Among the new vehicle’s features are an open platform for app creation and developer interaction; a new kind of business model devoid of dealerships; a sharing platform that lets other people borrow (or rent) your car; and an entirely electric powertrain.
Open Sharing Platform: Lynk & Co 01
The first automobile in the line, named 01, is a compact, hybrid gas-electric SUV set for release in China in 2017. It will hit Europe and U.S. thereafter, with the brand aiming for a 2018 release in the U.S.
The Lynk & Co 01 might be the first car designed around an app. This is the car’s biggest departure from other brands in our view.
The app lets you easily share your car, and make money doing it. Or you can rent one when needed, with ownership remaining with the original buyer of the vehicle.
A share button in the app generates rental income. Owners can hand over a “digital key” to remotely grant access to renters or friends. The owner can thus make some money to help offset the purchase price.
The concept of collaborative ownership is new, and it’s different from other car-sharing options. For one, the owner(s) would always use the same car. Unlike Smart Cars or other options, the owner could drive it across the country and back, or move from state to state.
But collaboration could drastically reduce the price of operating a vehicle. The purchase price and maintenance costs could conceivably be pooled.
Obviously, sharing a car has some complications. Who cleans it? What if it gets into an accident? What if more than one person needs it at a time? These are details the company, and users, will have to address.
But for those who need a car for occasional long trips where Uber or a cab won’t cut it (like weekend camping away from the city), this could be a viable option.
Price for the 01 on the Chinese market will range from 130,000 to 190,000 yuan ($19,000 – $28,000).
Open API, LYNK & Co App
The car is the first automobile to have an exclusive Application Programming Interface (API). Basically, apps can be created by anyone, leading to open development.
This will likely result in lots of apps useful in cities. But let’s not stop there. Campsite finder? Cheap food in a ski town? Safe hitch-hiker verification system? The possibilities are endless.
New Business Model: No More Car Dealerships
Lynk & Co cars will be sold online or in retail locations with fixed prices. Cars are delivered directly to your door.
The company predicts lower distribution costs will bring significant savings. Buyers can lop off up to 25 percent of the price of a new car through subscription services and, most drastically, car sharing.
Lynk & Co 01 Design Specifics
I could write a whole separate article about the interior of the car. I could wax poetic about the wide grille setting it apart as unique and cool. But much of that will be in the eye of the beholder. To me, the car looks nice and modern — a new take on car design.
It has a large touchscreen and systems in place to keep the car connected to the internet and its own “car cloud.” The first car in the line is a tech-laden SUV, built through CEVT’s Compact Modular Architecture.
That means it fits a variety of body styles and sizes, and enables the future production of vehicles that accommodate different powertrains, electrical systems, and “passive and active safety systems.”
Lynk & Co 01 is also optimized with an extremely stiff architecture. The body is designed to “minimize noise and vibration levels in the cabin.”
Continues Electric Powertrain Trend
Lynk & Co vehicles will all have “ultra-efficient” powertrains in hopes of reducing emissions.
“Electrified powertrains are key to Lynk & Co. The future model range will feature two full electric vehicles, while all models will be offered as hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain variants,” states the brand.
Regardless of the motive behind the trend for electric vehicles, their introduction and continued use could help the environment.
The Future Of The Automobile Industry
The brand claimed the 01’s “natural habitat is the mega-city.” But beyond the marketing there’s no reason this open-platform, app-based technology couldn’t expand to outdoor applications.
As senior vice president of Lynk & co, and previously Volvo vice president of sales and marketing Alain Visser remarked, “This is just the beginning.”