Three years ago, rumors suggested that Chinese automaker Geely planned to start selling cars in the U.S. in 2016--not under its Volvo brand, mind you, but under the Geely name.
Well, here we are, almost to the end of 2016, and there's no sign of Americanized Geelys on the streets yet. But yesterday in Berlin, the company did unveil a new brand of vehicles that could soon make a go of it here.
The brand is called Lynk & Co.
In case you can't tell from that laughably hipsterrific name or the model-ish, 30-something cast in the company's informationless promo video above, Lynk & Co. is aimed squarely at Millennials. The brand's first prototype--a crossover that's simply dubbed the 01--contains a host of features that address Gen Y's concerns about money, possessions, and comfy work-life balances:
1. The 01 is fully connected: The company's website says that "Our cars are independent wifi hubs with data plans included in the price". We expect to see heavy integration of Facebook, Google, Yelp, and more advertising networks than Neil deGrasse Tyson can count.
2. There are a variety of ownership plans: Again, we turn to the company's website, where we read this: "Buy, lease, subscribe -- or just borrow one. We're a car company that isn't trying to make you buy a car." Details are nowhere to be found, but at least Lynk & Co. wins points for charm.
3. There will be no dealers: Lynk & Co. plans to sell its vehicles entirely online. How the company will satisfy the desires of consumers who still want to see vehicles up close and personal before buying remains to be seen. However, the 01 and other models could potentially be displayed in Volvo showrooms.
4. There will be no repair hassles: That's not to say that Lynk & Co. vehicles will be glitch-free, but because they're connected to the web 24/7, repair centers will be notified when a car needs service. Technicians will come to the owner's home or job site, take the vehicle, and bring it back when repairs are completed.
5. The 01 will actually make owners money: Car-sharing will be built into the 01's DNA. Per a different section of the Lynk & Co. website:
"Unique to LYNK & CO and personal to you, your digital key is part of a secure system that doesn’t just protect your car, it lets you rent it out when you’re not using it or borrow one when you’re on holiday. You can even get your shopping or dry cleaning delivered to your car - wherever it is, wherever you are."
6. The 01 will be safe: Though the crossover isn't described as fully autonomous, it will contain autonomous features, like emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
All of which is very interesting, but it tells us almost nothing about the car itself. We know that it will be "electrified" (possibly hybrid, perhaps fully electric); we know that it will have a proprietary infotainment system co-developed with heavy-hitters in the tech arena like Microsoft (uh-oh); and we know that it will be built on the same Compact Modular Architecture platform as many Volvo and Geely models now are.
Other than that, we're not given much to go on. Most importantly, we still don't know whether Geely plans to introduce the Geely brand itself in the U.S., or if Lynk & Co. is meant to be its surrogate.
We'll learn a fair bit more--including pricing--when the 01 goes on sale in China next year, with the U.S. and Europe to follow. Stay tuned.