Typically, when researching a new car-focused story, the go-to sources are The Detroit News, Automotive News, a few car-focused blogs and websites, and maybe a more business-oriented publication, like Forbes. With Geely’s new Lynk & Co. car brand, however, news updates are just as likely to be found on sites like Mashable, The Verge, and Engadget as they are on the typical automotive outlets. That’s because, like Tesla’s direct sales or even Saturn’s no-haggle pricing, Lynk & Co. is entering the market with the mindset of a startup, intent on disrupting and revolutionizing the auto industry.
First and foremost, Lynk & Co. does not appear to be a tongue-in-cheek copyright infringement on Ford Motor Company’s luxury marque. Rather, the newest automaker seems serious about building an ultra-connected crossover on Volvo’s architecture and then selling it to consumers directly, instead of via a dealership network. The direct-sales approach isn’t brand new, as Tesla launched with the same idea, and Lynk & Co. will have the benefit of learning from Elon Musk’s struggles.
In addition to abandoning dealerships, the buzz surrounding Geely’s new venture has much to do with the company’s technology-driven mission. While plenty of carmakers are looking at ways to better incorporate mobile-device technology, such as the recent prevalence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in new models, Lynk & Co. plans to do even more.
The 01 SUV, which Lynk & Co. will launch first, will include an onboard telematics system designed to keep each car permanently in touch with the company’s cloud. Rather than relying solely on the car’s 10.1-inch infotainment screen to input commands to the vehicle, Lynk & Co. will also pair the 01 SUV with a dedicated app–an open-source software platform designed to invite developers to see just how far the idea of a “connected car” can go.
Another major piece of the Lynk & Co. pie is ride-sharing. Using the uber-hip (but Uber-less) city of Austin, TX, Ford tried out a shared purchasing option for folks looking to split the cost of a car with some friends. The idea was that, rather than spending all your money on a new Ford, you could find a trusty pal, and the two of you could split the cost. The experiment yielded a grand total of zero takers. Lynk & Co. hopes that sharing a car can still work.
Entry to the 01 will be handled through the smartphone app, and because of this, owners will be able to set up a guest list of drivers who can get in and drive. Build in a ride-sharing network, and all of a sudden 01 owners can rent their cars to others when they don’t need them, kind of like an Airbnb for cars.
Despite Tesla’s relative success, starting a car company is still a monumental task. In the modern era of automotive competition, simply opening up shop, slapping an engine on a chassis, and calling it a day doesn’t work. Innovation is critical, and a great idea is only as important as great execution. By designing the 01 with technology and software at the forefront, Geely’s Lynk & Co. clearly has some great, innovative ideas; will it be able to follow through?
Can Lynk & Co. disrupt the car business?
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