[size=medium]LYNK & CO 01 SUV launches Geely's radical new car brand[/size]
[size=x-small]19 Oct, 2016 11:00pm Graham Hope[/size]
This is the LYNK & CO 01, a hybrid SUV that will be the first new model from Geely's new brand
Chinese giant Geely has shown its radical vision of the future of motoring by unveiling its new global car brand LYNK & CO.
LYNK & CO claims it will smash through industry conventions with a strategy that embraces full digitalisation, electrification and connectivity – and even allows third parties to further develop its cars.
And spearheading this assault is the brand’s first model, this boldly styled premium SUV called the 01, which is set to go on sale in the UK late in 2018.
The lightweight but tech-heavy newcomer is being hailed as the most connected car ever, and is based on the Compact Model Architecture which will be used by fellow Geely brand Volvo to underpin future models, including the new V40 hatch, S40 saloon and XC40 SUV.
As will be the case with all LYNK & CO’s cars, the 01 has been designed in Sweden – under the eye of Brit Peter Horbury – and engineered there, too.
LYNK & CO 01: design
With dimensions of 1,654mm (height), 4,530mm (length) and 1,855mm (width), and a wheelbases of 1,730mm the 01 is a little taller, longer and wider than the Nissan Qashqai. The front of the car is dominated by a dark, full-width grille incorporating the mean headlamps, while the bonnet features two sharp perpendicular lines and full-res daytime running lights, giving it a resemblance to Porsche from some angles.
The new brand’s logo, which features contrasting gloss and matt surfaces linked to form an L, sits centrally.
The side is marked out by two striking parallel lines and a ‘shark’s fin’ D-pillar, along with a prominent air vent at the back of the front wing.
Inside, there’s a large central touchscreen and telematics systems that are constantly connected to the Internet. A shareable ‘digital key’ allows owners to provide access to others, while the car can be controlled by smartphone via the LYNK & CO app. The firm is working with Ericsson to create what is described as an “advanced car connectivity cloud”.
Andreas Nilsson, head of design at the new company, explained: “The design brief for LYNK & CO was simple: the cars should stand out from the crowd and appeal to a truly global audience. Plus we wanted to acknowledge that our users are extremely tech-savvy – a smartphone is an integral part of their lives and our interior design reflects that.”
LYNK & CO 01: hybrid and EV powertrains
Under the skin, the LYNK & CO 01 will be available with a range of efficient powertrains, with all models featuring electrification. Small-capacity, turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines will feature, as part of conventional hybrid and plug-in hybrid set-ups, but there will also be a pure-electric edition.
A seven-speed DCT, developed by Geely’s China Euro Vehicle Technology group, will be offered where suitable, alongside a manual gearbox. Based on claims that Volvo has been making for its forthcoming powertrains, the LYNK & CO could deliver outputs of up to 300bhp with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km.
And as you would expect of a brand so closely linked to Volvo, safety will be paramount too. The LYNK & CO 01 will feature the likes of forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking, with top crash test ratings being sought in the major markets where the car will be sold: China, the US and Europe.
In terms of what the 01 is likely to offer in terms of driving experience, the new brand will only commit to saying that it had been benchmarked against SUVs from premium brands, and that the body has been designed to minimise noise, vibration and harshness in the cabin.
LYNK & CO’s radical ideas aren’t just limited to the look of the vehicle, either. Traditional trim levels, for example, will be dispensed with to be replaced by what are described as ‘fixed price collections’ inspired by fashion and tech. Model names will be redundant, too, with the 01 being followed by the 02, 03 and so on, and replaced with each subsequent generation. Horbury revealed to Auto Express that designs for the first five models have already been finalised.
LYNK & CO electric sports car concept
Visitors to the LYNK & CO launch event we're also treated to a top secret hint at what the future new models will look like. At the event, a striking sports car concept was also unveiled mirroring the design themes from the 01 SUV on a lower, sleeker body with Lamborghini-style scissor doors.
Styling boss Peter Horbury said the concept was intended to show how the brand's design language would translate to a lower bodied car. And it gave a strong pointer to cues expected to feature on an imminent saloon model from the brand.
But a production coupe is not in LYNK & CO's immediate plans. Asked specifically where the car would fall in its numerically ordered line-up, Horbury laughed and said: "Down about number six." But he added: "The first five are done already."
Meanwhile, Alain Visser said that the new brand would not sell all its models in all markets, despite it global vision. And powertrain options for each individual market would be evaluated on a case by case basis.
LYNK & CO: new brand, new approach
Even buying the car promises to be a whole new experience, with LYNK & CO teaming up with Microsoft and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to offer customers the ability to order direct online at what are termed “fixed and competitive” prices.
The company will have some stores in shopping centres and malls, too, and says it will deliver cars to buyers’ homes and pick them up for servicing when required. With distribution costs typically accounting for around 25 per cent of the price of a car, LYNK & CO is confident its strategy will keep pricing competitive.
The firm also envisages that as well being offered on a traditional ‘ownership’ model, the 01 will also be available on a car-sharing or subscription basis.
Personalisation will be taken to a new level, too, with open platform tech allowing third-party developers to tailor the car to specific requirements and offer new software.
Alain Visser, senior vice president of LYNK & CO, summed up the project by highlighting how much of a revolution he hopes the brand will cause. “Our aim to is to enrich and simplify car ownership by redefining how they are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used,” he said.
The LYNK & CO 01 will arrive in Britain in late 2018 - with prices that are expected to undercut similar-sized models from Ford and Volkswagen - but Chinese sales are promised in 2017. Geely has ambitious plans for the brand and is aiming for 500,000 sales per year within the next five years.
Misschien een mix van veel ontwerpelementen van de concurrentie, maar per saldo een voldoende afwijkend gelijnde auto in een segment die redelijk eenvormig is. Van die naam krijg ik wel de kriebels, wat is er mis met Geely? Hopelijk krijgen we de Emgrand-modellen en Boyue hier bijvoorbeeld ook, maar dan onder Geely-vlag.