Lynk & Co is part of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group that owns Volvo Cars, the London Taxi Company, and of course the Geely Auto Group. It also holds a 9.6% stake in Daimler, parent company of Mercedes Benz. Lynk & Co is a rather quiet company that goes about its business without a lot of hype but it is highly innovative nonetheless. And it has its sights set on a global market instead of confining its vision exclusively to the Chinese market.
The company will have no established dealers, preferring to sell its cars online or through what it calls Offline Stores — boutique locations that are similar to Tesla stores. Its first model, known simply as the 01, is an electric SUV with an unusual premise. It is meant to be shared. Here’s how the company explains the concept.
“Lynk & Co has designed the 01 to be shared. Owners can generate virtual keys accessed via smartphones to allow the car to be shared with friends or used as a car-share vehicle. Time stamps and geofencing apply to the keys, which can be disabled after a set time or after the car is returned to a particular location. That means your car should be back and parked where you expect to find it when you need it next. A continuous internet connection to the car via Lynk & Co’s cloud services will also allow for live updates on where the car is at all times.”
The 01, which is a close corporate cousin of the Volvo XC40, will be manufactured at an existing Volvo factory in Belgium for distribution throughout Europe. The company says the first cars will be available before the end of this year.
At the Beijing auto show next week, Lynk & Co will have its new ZERO Concept on display. Where the 01 is arguably a bit frumpy in appearance, the ZERO Concept is bold and powerful. My first thought when I saw photos of it was that it looks a lot like the Jaguar I-Pace — a visually appealing car indeed — especially in the way the roof and hatchback merge at the rear of the car. Squint a little and the front has a bit of a Porsche Cayenne vibe going on as well. I was happy to see my colleague Tom Moloughney had exactly the same reaction when he wrote about the ZERO Concept for Inside EVs.
Yet as handsome as the concept is, it is what’s going on underneath the skin that is important. The car is the first to be based on what Lynk & Co calls its Sustainable Experience Architecture, which will be used for a variety of future electric vehicles from Geely. It features a 100 kWh battery and may have a range of up to 700 kilometers (NEDC). That should translate into cars with at least 400 miles of range. The platform can be configured for two, three, or four electric motors and will offer full connectivity technology including wireless updates and advanced autonomous driving functions. It will also be available to other manufacturers, much as Volkswagen is doing with its MEB electric vehicle chassis. Canoo is also planning to share its electric skateboard platform with Hyundai.
Geely founder and CEO Li Shufu confirms talks with other car manufacturers have taken place, according to Electrive. “Our development of this changeable electric vehicle architecture represents the biggest step forward for Geely in the past ten years. We intend to make the benefits of this innovation available to other manufacturers. Open source architectures will be the key feature of the new mobility services in which Geely is a pioneer.”
There are reports that Mercedes may be interested in using the SEA platform for one or more future electric cars of its own — no surprise, really, since Geely owns a sizable chunk of Daimler stock. Geely could also use the SEA platform as the basis for electric cars from other brands it owns such as Lotus and Polestar.
The ZERO Concept, or whatever it is called when (and if) it reaches production, will find itself smack in the middle of a crowded field of other electric SUVs including the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. That’s good, since that is the hottest market segment at the present time. The more the merrier as far as moving the EV revolution forward goes. If the production version of the ZERO Concept is attractively priced, it should be well received in the marketplace.