Whatever happened to promising EV startup Lynk & Co?

  • Lynk & Co is an EV brand from Chinese automaker Geely Group that was once a strong contender to move into the US market.
  • Its first model was the crossover 01 (pictured above), which went on sale in China at the end of 2017.
  • At the time, we were told that US sales would begin in 2020.

    When we last checked in with Lynk & Co, the Chinese carmaker – part of the Geely Group’s automotive empire – was planning to expand its operations from China and Europe to America with the aim of opening an outpost in San Francisco by in 2020. That was a couple years ago, and it obviously hasn’t happened—but that’s not because the company has lost interest.

    CEO Alain Visser remains focused on bringing his electric cars here. “My ambition, without a concrete plan, is to go to the USA,” he said Car and Driverspeaking to us at Lynk & Co headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. “I am convinced there is a market for our offering. Not everywhere, but in California, New York and a few other places.”

    Lynk’s structure is unusual. For a flat fee of around $500 per month, users gain the use of a car, including all insurance and maintenance fees. There is no commitment, so they can keep the car for a month or any other number of months. If they keep it for a year, it is replaced with a new model. And with the touch of a button on their infotainment screen, users can offer their car to share with anyone who is a member of the Lynk & Co app, for any length of time – hours, days, weeks, months – at any price in shop. will hold. So it’s like Airbnb for cars, but Lynk doesn’t even get a cut.

    Currently, Lynk & Co. operates in seven European countries with 120,000 users on the app there and more than 17,000 cars on the road. In China, the company claims to sell 150,000 cars a year.

    Plan B: Texas, not California

    In keeping with the unusual nature of the company, Visser now hopes to open the first Lynk USA brand experience center — “club,” in Lynk parlance — not on the coast, but in Texas. “If I could do it right now, I’d open a club in Austin, without a car,” Visser said, though he admits he’s never visited the city. “I would just build the brand, the experience, talk about what we stand for, build the activities we do in the clubs here in Europe. And then a year later, maybe add a car.”

    So what has stopped the company from doing just that? Well, the brand’s unique selling proposition wasn’t functional in 2020. “The sharing functionality wasn’t ready then,” he said. “We would just have the concept that you use a car for a month, you pay the flat fee. And we wanted to wait because we think that sharing is really what makes the business model sustainable.”

    Lynk & Co

    lynk co amsterdam club

    But now that it works – we saw on the Lynk app that there are hundreds of thousands of members in seven European countries looking to lend or borrow a car – what’s the catch? Part of it is the US insistence on a network of independent, franchise-based dealers, which Lynk eschews—it does 99 percent of its business online. Visser, however, believes there may be a solution. “We would almost be registered in the US as a rental car company more than a car sales establishment,” he said. “We won’t have a dealership. But if Tesla had problems as an American company in the US, it would definitely be difficult for us.”

    If generating interest within the world’s second-largest auto market for a completely unknown, stylishly styled compact crossover made in China and sold with a completely unknown ownership model sounds like a challenge, Visser appears to be ready for it.

    “We launched our first ever club in Amsterdam (pictured above), which is the most car-hating city in Europe,” he said. “And we said, let’s go there because it’s a clear signal that we go against the grain of the auto industry. And I think I see Austin a little bit like that. It’s in Texas, it’s the pickup state. So we start there. ” We will see.

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