When it relates to the automotive industry, we have centenary companies, such as Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz, and newer ones, such as Hyundai or Geely. Both groups manufacture cars in a pretty much similar way since their invention. As we have already described it in our collection of articles “The Car Revolution“, cars are self-propelled vehicles equipped with four wheels, a steering wheel, pedals and an internal combustion engine. But we would add to that equation another fundamental aspect: cars are goods, intended to be sold. And this is what a new company called Lynk & CO intends to tackle. We have already mentioned it prior to its presentation, in the second part of “The Car Revolution”, but we did not know what it was up to at the time. Now we do (sort of): it will still sell its cars, but it will also give customers the option to just use them, in a sort of hybrid model between what new and old carmakers currently are and what car companies will probably become, such as Riversimple.
In this short video, Lynk and CO let’s us figure out part of its future strategy. From 1:30 on you see the company intends to offer “central brand stores, leading connectivity, home delivery, innovative technology, fixed price, subscription model, simplified product offer, service pick-up and delivery, online sales, electrified cars and car sharing”.
Before we explain each and every one of these promises, it is worth explaining the name of the company, which is owned by Geely and uses a jointly-developed platform (by Geely and Volvo) called CMA. Lynk refers to the fact that the cars will be deeply dependent on an internet connection.
CO is a reference to everything the company says it relates to: COoperation, COllaboration, COnnectivity, COmmunity. All with the Latin prefix Co, which is used to indicate a complement. The car? Well, it does not even have a name. It is called 01.
Lynk & CO has already disclosed that numbers will name their future vehicles. 02, 03 and so forth until they have a complete line-up. This is probably what they mean by “simplified product offer”. Considering that CMA stands for Compact Modular Architecture, the 01 will be the entry-level model. They could also offer a hatchback and a sedan, such as Volvo plans to do, but they have revealed a crossover before anything else. It will probably be more expensive than the other models based on CMA, but it has more appeal in today’s market.
The new company promises “electrified cars”, but contradicts itself in its own website.
“Under the bonnet you’ll find the next generation of conventional, hybrid or electric engine. Leaner, cleaner, more efficient.” If the cars will have “conventional” engines, the promise of electrified cars does not stand. These engines are not new at all: they are the Drive-E already used by Volvo. The only new thing about them is that Lynk & CO will have a diagnosis element created by Ericsson that will probably dismiss the need of regular check-ups. Nothing new. BMW already uses a similar system and calls it CBS (Condition Based Service).
This Ericsson telemetry equipment is only part of the “leading connectivity” that Lynk & CO claims it will offer. Its cars will also be connected to the internet at all times. And not because the hipster that don’t like to drive need to watch the new episode of The Walking Dead while driving to work. In fact, it needs such connection in order to offer one of the main services from Lynk & CO: car sharing.
In the 10.1-inch screen in the central console, you can park your car and say you won’t need it until 6 pm, for example. In the meantime, any Lynk & CO subscriber can get your car and drive it. You have evaluations of the subscriber and also of the car owner in order to supposedly make it more comfortable to lend your car to someone else. That, according to the company, is a way to make money out of the car instead of just wasting it on your automobile. Putting it in another way, it’s a Uber without the need to drive around. The fee subscribers pay would be enough to refuel the car. But how would it come back to the point where you left it? And who would refuel it?
Lynk & CO also intends to offer its own cars to subscribers without the need to buy one. Their clients will be offered the traditional buying option, a leasing plan and also the simple right to drive the cars. This last option will include maintenance costs and insurance. You will also be able to order the car, receive it home, or anywhere else you need it, and ask for a Lynk & CO employee to take it away. Just like YOYO, with the difference that Lynk & CO also produces the cars it will use in this service.
The questions worth asking at this point are: what is the sense in buying one car that you can use by paying a monthly fee? Or, in case you decide to buy it, will you ever want to share it with anyone?
Lynk & CO has a lot of other unanswered questions to address besides these. We have no clue on the O1 technical specifications, for example. Nor on the “fixed prices” of the services the company plans to offer. Nor about anything else.
We have to say Geely has followed a wise strategy to get things going. It has created an entirely new car company to propose the new business model, so eventual damages are limited to Lynk & CO, while any success can be shared through the entire organization. But it relies on traditional ways: internal combustion engine, stamped body, sales. This attempt to be a hybrid between a regular and a new carmaker will be very complicated. Lynk & CO will have the costs of the former and the logistics complications of the latter. And it will try to conquer a customer that has no shame to say something like this: “I don’t know anything about cars. I don’t even want to. I’ve got better things to do”. Seriously. They will try to sell or lease a car to this people who probably hate cars and would be much better suited with someone driving them around. That would be perfectly comfortable inside a bus or a train as long as there was Wi-Fi available. It is like trying to make Rick Martin fall in love with Portia De Rossi. Or Clint Eastwood with Jack Nicholson. It’s not going to work. We all would better respect everybody’s ways of living. Not trying to convert Jay Leno into a public transportation advocate, for example. So far, that is exactly what Lynk & CO seems to be trying to do. We hope that is not the case.