Lynk & Co is a new car brand born as a JV between Sweden’s Volvo and China’s Geely cars. It is releasing the hybrid “01 model” compact SUV in 2017 in China, Europe and the US1.
I hear you, “What? Another car brand? But it’s not even electric… or autonomous!” Well, if you had any of these thoughts, you’re not alone. Alain Visser, the CEO of Lynk & Co shares your opinion, “The world doesn’t need another car brand.”2 Then why on earth is Lynk building one from scratch? Because, like Apple with the iPhone, Lynk doesn’t believe they’re building a car but rather a fully connected source of mobility3.
Now this all sounds very whimsical. Isn’t every car maker vigorously working to more seamlessly integrate their product with smart technology in a more connected world? So why is Lynk any different? Well, Lynk claims that they are tackling digital from the opposite direction. That is, rather than layering technology on top of a car platform, high-tech is being built at the very heart of its product design, making the user experience and interface highly customizable.
So what “high-tech” is Lynk & Co really offering and what does this mean for its business and operating model? There are a few different things that stand out:
- Full connectivity;
- Direct to consumer supply chain; and
- A sharing and monetization platform4.
Full connectivity: Lynk & Co cars will be permanently connected via 4G enabling sharing of data among themselves, including available parking spaces and the optimal speed to balance safely hitting green lights while preventing over acceleration and deceleration. Lynk will offer open API and the first dedicated app store for cars. Cars will not only have Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink, and Android Auto (in some markets), but also onboard telematics for permanent connection with the world via the Lynk & Co cloud.
Direct to consumers: Lynk & Co claims that as much as 25% of a car’s cost can be sunk into dealerships, so while it will have flagship stores, its primary distribution method will be direct (like Tesla). This will cut out the costly middlemen as well as provide a delivery and car servicing offering (pick-up, servicing and return) right to the customer’s door.
Sharing and monetization: Many argue that this is the largest differentiating factor. Lynk & Co will provide a platform for car owners to share and lease their vehicle to others when it would otherwise be unutilized. That is, owners will be able to provide access for others to use their car, for a fee if they wish, by providing digital keys through their iPhone.5
Hold on though, what about the elephant in the room? Such levels of connectivity and openness are great but won’t this provide the highest potential hacking vectors of any car to-date?
In the connected world, greater convenience usually comes with the trade-off of greater vulnerability. Lynk & Co are confident that this won’t be an issue for them but then again, which company sets out to tell its potential customers that their product has the highest security risk?6
Ironically, Lynk & Co’s value proposition is to be reassuring and secure, but also perfectly integrated and synced up with our constantly connected lives7. It is positioning itself as an aspirational brand, slotting in between Geely’s budget vehicles and Volvo’s more premium line-up. In short, Lynk & Co wants to deliver connected, design-driven and very competitively priced cars where the perceived value is way beyond its actual price tag.
So where to from here?
Lynk & Co is planning a 02, 03 and other models to complete a full range of cars where electrification and self-driving capabilities will play an increasingly central role.4
Personally, I think these are both great ideas. However, I think the real value opportunity is in providing a highly customizable and connected set of vehicles suitable for single and multi-person mobility that owners can share and monetize… all within a truly safe and secure ecosystem – no biggy.
I think the jury is still out on this one – there are, and will continue to be, a plethora of skeptics. However, Lynk & Co certainly see an opportunity and are comfortable with divided opinions – “[we] would rather be something special to someone, than be bland to everyone.”4 I find their attitude quite refreshing, especially in an industry many deem outdated and inefficient. So I have to ask, “Should Lynk & Co push the automobile industry in this direction, even if the 01 model fails?”
I’d love to hear your opinion.
TV – xoxo.
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- Forbes, “Everything you need to know about Lynk & Co’s new business model to sell and share cars”, http://www.forbes.com/sites/tychodefeijter/2016/10/23/everything-you-need-to-know-about-lynk-cos-new-business-model-to-sell-and-share-cars/#44a954fe50a3, accessed 16 November 2016.
- The Verge, “Lynk & Co is a car company that’s refreshingly cynical about car companies”, http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/21/13356930/lynk-and-co-new-car-company-alain-visser, accessed 16 November 2016.
- Lynk & Co, “The car is not a car”, http://www.lynkco.com/en/car-and.html, accessed 16 November 2016.
- The Verge, “Lynk & Co is a new car brand that was ‘born digital’”, http://www.theverge.com/2016/ 10/19/13328674/lynk-and-co-geely-connected-car-volvo-launch-official, accessed 16 November 2018.
- The Boston Consulting Group, “What’s ahead for car sharing?”, https://www.bcgperspectives. com/content/articles/automotive-whats-ahead-car-sharing-new-mobility-its-impact-vehicle-sales/, accesses 16 November 2016.
- Strategy&, “Connected car report 2016: Opportunities, risk, and turmoil on the road to autonomous vehicles”, http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/connected-car-2016-study, accessed 16 November 2016.
- Road and Track, “Lynk & Co wants to build a car you’ll love as much as your smartphone”, http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/future-cars/a31258/lynk-co-first-chinese-car-in-america-usa/, accessed 16 November 2016.