Although it was big in its home market for years, Chinese automaker Geely was little known outside mainland China until it shelled out a few billion dollars to buy Volvo from Ford back in 2010. While many pundits dismissed that purchase as the beginning of the end for Volvo, Geely surprised everyone by turning the Swedish brand around with a stream of superb new models. However, despite the phenomenal success it had from the Volvo brand, Geely hadn’t shown much interest in expanding globally. Maybe it still wasn’t confident of the reception a Chinese brand will get, especially in the Western markets.
It’s this concern about brand image and perception that Geely has sought to tackle with a new mainstream brand called Lynk & Co. Although vehicles from the new brand will be built in China, they will be designed and engineered in Sweden, tapping into Volvo’s proven expertise in these fields. Developed under CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology), the shared Geely and Volvo research and innovation centre, its cars will be built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which will underpin Gothenburg’s upcoming models. “We have engineers with decades of experience at some of the world’s best car manufacturers developing the new range of Lynk & Co. models,” says Mats Fägerhag, CEO of CEVT. 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,” he adds.
And to further detach the new brand from its Chinese roots, the first model in its line-up was previewed this weekend in Berlin, Germany. In its official statement, Lync & Co. says the 01 will be followed by 02, 03 and so forth to make up a full range. It also says the straightforward naming convention reflects the brand’s idea of simplifying and challenging industry conventions.
Although technical details haven’t been divulged yet, these cars are expected to be powered by inline three- and four-cylinder engines as well as plug-in hybrid systems. And with the development team drawing on the expertise of the Volvo Safety Centre, occupant safety is bound to be among the best in the world. The company is also working closely with Microsoft, Alibaba and Ericsson to provide an advanced digital infrastructure for the cars.
Andreas Nilsson, head of Geely Design says the brief to pen cars that “stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience.” The 01 SUV does have a striking design, with distinctive styling elements, but we can also see a bit of Porsche, Nissan and Lincoln here and there.
The 01 is expected to go on sale in China next year, with likely debuts in Europe and the US a year later.