Lynk & Co - “disrupt the automobile industry by redefining the process of buying, owning and using a car”

Starting a car company is like trying to reinvent the wheel. In other words, it’s almost impossible. It all comes down to offering something no one has offered before and making a marketing campaign so massive it would leave Coca-Cola PRs impressed. Pagani survived thanks to its exceptionally expensive and detailed cars, Tesla offered the first appealing electric cars, while Rimac is still fighting its way in the world of cars without actually producing any (except for some hypercars).

Rimac is developing tech, and things could stay at that. However, we have a newcomer to the world of cars. It is from China and in its first three years among the living it is doing well. At least considering what we can see on the surface.

Lynk & Co was launched as a new company by Zhejiang Geely Holding in 2015. These people own Volvo and are actually sharing Volvo technology with all the cars produced under the Lynk & Co name. While this is a formidable alliance, it is not in itself the most important fact about Lynk & Co. As reported right at the get-go, Lynk & Co cars will be the most connected cars on earth, and they will all offer a special subscription service that releases its users from any hurdles of car ownership.

In essence, like TopGear and many others have reported - Lynk & Co is the Netflix of cars. You subscribe to it via monthly payments and choose a car of your liking. You do not buy, own, maintain, insure, register or take care of anything except for driving. Lynk & Co will do it all for you.

How Does Lynk & Co Service Work?

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About Exterior
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Lynk & Co will have to foster some radical differences compared to an ordinary car company

This is difficult to explain, but the service should completely circumnavigate car selling and actually focus on attracting you through promoting the subscription service. If you have read my article about the new Volvo S90, you already know that Volvo made this car available through the Care by Volvo service. This is also a subscription service where you can get a new S60 for less than $800 per month. Lynk & Co is doing much the same, but with some added benefits and, for now, only in China. The service will be made available in Europe in 2020 and the U.S. in 2021.

To make it all work, Lynk & Co will have to foster some radical differences compared to an ordinary car company. The first step is getting rid of car dealerships which, according to Lynk & Co CEO, Alain Visser, saves up to 15 percent of the cost. You will be able to order a car online, or, if you are not a Millenial and want to see what you will drive before hitting the subscribe button, you could visit an urban boutique store (they call it Offline Store) and order your car. Offline Stores will be located in every major city. In Europe, Lynk & Co will open the first one in Amsterdam, following with stores in London, Berlin, and Barcelona. An Offline Store will not be a car dealership, mind you. It will be more of a fun store showroom where you can experience Lynk & Co, see its cars, take an Instagram photo, and do all the other important activities.

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Lynk & Co will also handle all the maintenance, registration, and insurance

So, after you order a car via the subscription service, a Lynk & Co representative will deliver it to you (to your doorstep) within a day or two. Lynk & Co will also handle all the maintenance, registration, and insurance. This is all part of the subscription service. Basically, your always internet connected Lynk & Co will notify the company that the car is due for service, someone from the company will contact you, come to pick up the car, service it, and return it to you after all the tiresome tasks have been dealt with. If this sounds a lot like what Tesla is doing, you are not mistaken. There are many similarities.

“We have made two business models, retail and subscription, and our hope and our assumption is that we will have more subs than buying,” Lynk & Co CEO Alain Visser insisted.

He also added, “When we start in Amsterdam we will also have it online, and online is international. We will deliver the car where you are — if someone wants a car in Barcelona or Hamburg, we will send it there, to the door.”

The system shares many similarities with programs such as the BMW Access, Volvo’s own Care by Volvo, or Porsche Passport concierge services. Only, this will be dramatically cheaper and should actually be attainable for middle-class individuals. After all, Lynk & Co aims to offer car prices similar to those of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. You simply cannot call these manufacturers expensive.

To make all of this actually work, the company had to invent an entire business model unlike that of any other car company. CEO Visser reported earlier that the company has recognized “six shit factors in the car industry.”

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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This will be dramatically cheaper and should actually be attainable for middle-class individuals.

Those are sis words - I swear. I already like the guy.

In his interview with Australian Motoring he mentioned all six of them:

“First, you have to go to a dealership that is outside the city, so it’s not a nice experience.”

“Two, when you’re at the dealership, and you start choosing the model, then you realize there are five billion build combinations. We will have cars like the iPhone: it’s black and silver and you choose the gigabytes.”

“Three, you’ve finally made up your mind, and you’ve got to negotiate the price.”

“Four, you have to wait four months on average to have your car delivered. We will deliver the cars the same day because we only have eight variants.”

“Five, you always have to go to the service to change your lubricants and filters, even during your check-ups.”

“Six, when you decide on your car today you decide for 12, 24 or 36 months. For us, you only decide for one month.”

Apparently, the company managed to eliminate all the shit factors. We are all eagerly awaiting the subscription prices for Lynk & Co cars in Europe and the US.

Where Can I Apply For a Lynk & Co Car?

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Right now, Lynk & Co operates only in China with three cars available - the 01, the 02, and the 03.

Right now, Lynk & Co operates only in China with three cars available - the 01, the 02, and the 03. These are far from creative names, but that is what you get when designing an affordable car for an experimental scheme. Nevertheless, when these three become available in Europe, and the U.S., you will be able to order a car online via a website, or, probably order one from a boutique store. In there, you will have access to a whole set of homeware and fashion clothes Lynk & Co plans to offer. It will be a Millenial paradise in there with a free wi-fi all over and maybe even an avocado or two.

Yet, apart from offering the subscription service, Lynk & Co may be selling its cars too. If you want to actually own one of the cars, and don’t mind paying a lot of money, Lynk & Co won’t hold this against you. It’s only logical that you will have to take care of all other “shit factors” yourself should you opt for buying one of the cars. Selling cars for money isn’t actually confirmed yet as the company wants to promote the subscription model more than anything else.

Look closely for the lynkco.com site as it may become the next big thing. You will soon be shopping for a car on this website. At least according to Lynk & Co. and probably the Millenials who don’t give a rat’s ass about actually owning a car.

I’ve read somewhere that research showed that the Millenials would rather give up on their car than their smartphone. So, that’s that. Lynk & Co is definitely onto something here.

With the revealing of its 02 compact SUV, Visser said “We’re not a competitor to car companies like VW, Toyota or Audi. Our competitors are firms like Uber.” That says a lot.

Are There Any Similar Services In Existence?

5 things Polestar Engineered did to make Volvo S60 the opposite of political correctness
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BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Ford, Cadillac, and many other companies offer concierge services that take care of many things a car owner simply should not be concerned about

Yes, there are. Tesla, with its unique selling scheme without dealers, has some similarities with the Lynk & Co system. BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Ford, Cadillac, and many other companies offer concierge services that take care of many things a car owner simply should not be concerned about. And then, there are actual subscription programs offered by some premium car manufacturers to their customers which include features and benefits that Lynk & Co plans to introduce.

Some other subscription services are:

Book by Cadillac
Porsche Passport
BMW Access
Ford Canvas
Care by Volvo
Mercedes Collection

It may be that you haven’t heard of many of them. Or at all. That’s not too surprising as all of these services are on the brink of their market adventures, and I suspect they are not as successful as the companies that offer them would like them to be.

Care by Volvo is really the first one that made a significant impact after the Swedish company offered its XC40 compact SUV via a subscription service.

Lynk & Co went for overkill with their scheme, packing all the imaginable services under one roof and actually designing cars to suit the service.

How Can I Believe A Lynk & Co Car Is Good Enough To Order Online?

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Lynk & Co is a sister company to Volvo which means that Lynk & Co cars are using Volvo technology, they will be produced in Volvo factories

You have to ask this question. However, the answer is surprisingly blunt.

Lynk & Co is a sister company to Volvo which means that Lynk & Co cars are using Volvo technology, they will be produced in Volvo factories (in Ghent, Belgium for Europe and the U.S.), and will share all the same safety features of the more expensive Volvo cars. C’mon, they don’t look too shabby either.

Zhejiang Geely Holding, which owns both Volvo and Lynk & Co, decided to implement the same safety and quality standards for both companies. I’ll take a guess and say you would believe Volvo enough to order its cars online. Well, knowing that Lynk & Co produces cars on the same production line as Volvo is reassuring, to say the least.

Company CEO Visser did say that the company simply had to produce high-quality cars in order for this business model to work at all. Yet, I am still puzzled as to how the company plans on dealing with insurance policies and various laws in different countries (or different States for that matter) that regulate registering, insuring, and “selling/handing out” cars. The U.S. may be the toughest nut to crack due to the powerful National Automobile Dealers Association. This Association has made some serious problems for Tesla when the electric car company opened “stores” to showcase its cars, but tried to sell the cars online.

Lynk & Co will have to fight the same fight, but as the automotive market landscape is obviously changing, I think we are in for some new laws and practices that will be implemented in the coming years. People are rapidly changing their view on owning and using cars. That is why Lynk & Co CEO, Alain Visser, said, “We are not selling cars. We are providing personal mobility.”

Still, the company will have to do a lot more than being a Volvo subbrand to convince people to gain trust.

Lynk & Co Cars

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To warm things up, Lynk & Co revealed three cars - two compact SUVs and one sedan

To warm things up, Lynk & Co revealed three cars - two compact SUVs and one sedan. Right now, U.S. and European roads are hosting a number of development models, prototypes, and test cars that will evolve into full production models before 2021 (for the U.S.) and 2020 (for Europe).

The first car the company has ever revealed was the 01. It was showcased in October of 2016 as a compact, 177.6-inch SUV based on the Volvo Compact Modular Architecture. It is the same CMA platform Volvo uses for the XC40 (and a number of upcoming compact cars). Sharing the engines, basic structure, technology, and main proportions with the XC40, the 01 was met with favorable reviews by the press, and it actually aced the C-NCAP safety test. In essence, the 01 is a cheaper version of the XC40 and is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine. The units available in Europe and the U.S. will sport some kind of a hybrid system. Apparently, non-hybrid cars won’t be available for western markets at all. This is strange in a way as ICE-only cars would probably be cheaper. As this is only a conjecture, I’ll leave it at that.

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The 02, on the other hand, is a city dweller.

The 02 is yet another compact SUV. It is smaller than the 01 with a bit sportier styling, and it seems like it’s perfectly adapted for city tasks. The 01 is too, but falling in size between the X1 and the X3, it feels more grown up. The 02, on the other hand, is a city dweller. Both cars are available with 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter turbocharged engines with 148 horsepower or 190ish horsepower, respectively. Only in China, though.

We are still waiting for Euro and U.S. specs.

The third car available is the 03, a sedan, but despite being made of the same parts as the 01 and the 02, it will be a China-only vehicle.

Based on the Volvo CMA platform, the Lynk & Co cars share all the important pieces with the XC40. And that car, as we already figured out, is awesome. To smash your “Chinese car anxiety,” let me tell you just how global these cars are. Both the 01 and the 02 (and the XC40) use TRW airbags, ThyssenKrupp metal, Bosch braking system, Volvo safety systems, Volvo assistance systems, and Volvo-high fit and finish. Then, you can garnish them with the BorgWarner AWD system for a full global car experience.

Volvo based its production of western-destined cars in Belgium.

Just to paint this picture even better, let me tell you that the Volvo XC40 and the Lynk & Co 01 share more similarities than the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Infiniti QX30. And those two, under the metal, are basically the same. So, that’s that.

Do you want a final “would you drive it” answer?

I’d drive one and be happy about it. Despite all the “Trumpness,” we live global lives and always connected Lynk & Co shows that. A lot.

Benefits Of Car Subscriptions

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Your car will be delivered within a day or two
Limited options but great standard equipment
Fast delivery
Freedom to change models at will
No maintenance cost
Little downtime
Smartphone integration \ no keys to lose
Sharable among family and friends
Third-party apps for infotainment systems

Obviously, a business model like this offers numerous benefits. So much so that I am a tiny bit surprised it wasn’t tried on a scale like this before.

Lynk & Co offers a seamless experience by giving you a limited number of options (all cars are basically loaded with gear) which saves you time and saves a lot of money for Lynk & Co as the company does not have to make each car with a unique specification. TopGear reports that four versions are available for the 01: Clear, Louder, Inter, and Hyper. It will be a similar story for the 02 as well.

Your car will be delivered within a day or two. As the company offers only a handful of different versions its stock can be full at all times, so the car you actually want is ready to be at your doorstep. If you live close enough, you will probably be able to drive it the same day. This fact alone is staggering if we take into account that the average waiting list for a new car spans from 4 weeks (if you are lucky) to a few months.

You don’t have to sign up for a long-term lease plan (12 months, 24 months or 36 months), but can actually subscribe to a service for as little as one month.

You don’t have to think about warranty, maintenance, servicing, or Wi-Fi (at least in China as Wi-Fi is included with the monthly fee) as this is all included in the subscription.

You will start your car via a special digital key coded to your smartphone. No regular keys. Furthermore, this will be a sharable digital key so you can invite other individuals to use the car (family members, people who you rent your car to, friends, lovers, and the like).

All cars are fully loaded with a 10.1 infotainment screen, wi-fi connectivity, wireless charging pads, and all imaginable driver assistance systems. Lynk & Co says these will be first cars in the world with a share button (I don’t know what the button will do, but I guess it has something to do with that sharable digital key).

Dedicated Application Programming Interface (API) system will allow third-party developers to develop their own apps for the car.

Car Subscription Disadvantages

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Subscription services did not actually pass the market test with flying colors.
Limited drivetrain options
Could be expensive in states with high insurance premiums
Damage and Theft could be more troublesome
No peronalizing or customizing
No equity in the vehicle
May have no option to buy later

Heck, I am pressed to find disadvantages of the Lynk & Co services. It was much easier to come up with the advantages above. So, comment below if you can think of some. This is what I managed to come up with:

Only hybrids for western markets. While this is a good thing on its own, it actually means that the cars here will be much more expensive than in China. We all know that the XC40 Momentum subscription for $650 per month isn’t exactly cheap. I am really curious to find out what the Lynk & Co 01 subscription price will be. It should be considerably less than that.

Subscription services did not actually pass the market test with flying colors. Care by Volvo had numerous issues with the XC40 subscription service as the company simply couldn’t deliver cars in time, Volvo delayed deliveries multiple times for some buyers due to some administrative issues. I think that Volvo was actually overwhelmed with sudden demand for the XC40 that it simply could not produce enough. Some of these problems may translate to Lynk & Co as well.

Still, things get a bit murky when it comes to insurance for the subscription service. What happens when you damage a car? What if someone steals it?

After all, you don’t own anything. Owning a car is an important part of the allure of driving a car in the first place, is it not? It may be for some, but TopGear said something really clever - “Pride of ownership takes a back seat to usefulness, replaces the emotional satisfaction with utility.” Can they provide that much utility?

What Will Lynk & Co Do With Older Cars?

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A two-year-old car with 30,000 miles on its odometer will be considered a second-hand model, and it will fall into the second category

Now, this is where I think the subscription model could actually bear some serious fruits. Lynk & Co planned three levels of a monthly subscription fee. The first one where you subscribe to a new car, the second where you subscribe to a second-hand model and the third one where you subscribe to an even older model. After these three phases, all the cars are in for scrapping and recycling. Obviously, some years will need to pass before this happens as the market will have to give birth to a large number of new subscriptions in order for anyone to be able to subscribe to a second-hand model.

A two-year-old car with 30,000 miles on its odometer will be considered a second-hand model, and it will fall into the second category. This category should be more attainable compared with subscribing to a new car. I can’t even stress enough how important this will be for the whole business Lynk & Co is trying to make work here. Then, there is the third level. Rules surrounding the third level are still a bit mysterious, but this one will bring even less expensive monthly subscriptions.

Further reading

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About Exterior
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Read more about the 2017 Lynk & Co 01.

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Read more about the 2018 Lynk & Co 02.

Discover What The Potentially Awesome Lynk & Co Car Subscription Service Is All About
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Read more about the 2018 Lynk & Co 03.

2019 Lynk & Co 04 Hatchback
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Lynk & Co 04.

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