After a characteristically bizarre press unveiling in Amsterdam involving some spoon-feeding and a lot of conceptual dancing, Lynk & Co. debuted a new small crossover. But what’s more interesting is how Lynk & Co. wants people to buy it. Or, well, not.
Just to remind you about Lynk & Co, it’s a new venture from Geely, using Volvo engines and platforms, and with a lot of novel ideas regarding how cars can be sold, used, shared, and so on.
The car itself is called the 02, part of their very whimsical naming scheme. The Lynk & Co 01 was a mid-sized SUV, based on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, using Volvo-sourced engines, a 1.5-liter three or a 2.0-liter turbo four. The styling was actually quite novel and fresh, and that car is already on sale in China, where it has become China’s quickest-selling car upon its release.
The 02 uses the same CMA platform, just shortened a bit, and lowered pretty significantly. The designer claimed the inspiration for the car came from Dakkar rally cars, and I think I can see that.
Compared to the 01, the 02 is a smaller, more athletic-looking crossover. Based on their target European markets of Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, and other similar, dense European cities, I was sort of expecting 02 to be some kind of small supermini or city car, but the truth is those don’t make a lot of money and, just like in the U.S., smaller crossovers are getting very popular in Europe.
The other announced Lynk & Co model, the 03, is a interesting and chunky-looking sedan that sort of reminds me of the result of sweet, sweet lovemaking between a Porsche Macan and a Chrysler 300, but the sedan is only for the Chinese market.
Europe gets the 01 SUV and the 02 Crossover. America will definitely get the 01 at some point. (I asked the CEO himself when, and he wouldn’t give any kind of date, even a ballpark one.) If I had to guess, which I don’t, I’d say 2021.
The 02 retains the design vocabulary established in the 01: a front face that feels oddly like a mix of Porsche Cayenne and Juke, but I think actually works well. Also, there’s a clean, Scandinavian feel to things, but there’s also a willingness to indulge in some ornate surface work, most notably in the grille and taillamp designs.
There’s also a distinctive C-pillar design with a floating roof, and the 02 has some nice two-tone options, where a vivid color highlight (orange, in this case) is paired with a more flat neutral, and the effect is quite striking. The highlight colors are kept low on the car’s body, to emphasize the low center of gravity, or at least that was the goal.
I think it’s a good-looking crossover. I find it a bit strange how close it is to the 01 in size, design, purpose, and so on, but the market is really quite granular, especially in Europe, and distinctions like this are important.
The ones I saw today were pre-production models, and as such we weren’t able to get good looks inside, since the plastics aren’t final and there’s other parts not refined yet, but one was parked outside, so I was able to get a peek in, anyway:
I think the interior looks quite good, and is certainly competitive with other cars in its premium-crossover segment.
Luggage compartment access and size appears to be pretty good as well.
Like all Lynk & Co events and cars I’ve seen so far, I’m left feeling like I like the cars themselves, and that there’s some good design going on here. I’m also left curious about how the company is going to pull off the car subscription and sharing models that are so key to its identity.
Lynk & Co’s advertising materials and overall tone suggest a strong focus on city-dwelling young people, though it’s quick to point out that it wants to target those who “are young of mind,” because, of course, everyone knows most young city-dwellers are broke.
Who it really seems to be targeting are, as Lynk & Co said “people who don’t want to own cars.” You’d think that’d be a hard sell for a company that wants to, you know, build cars, but no one ever accused Lynk & Co of taking the easy way, I guess.
The company very much embraces the tired “car as cellphone” concept, and it’s working to make car use commitment and hassle-free, with things like subscriptions instead of ownership, the ability to share your car for money (like an automotive AirBnB), servicing that comes and gets the car and returns it, no-haggle pricing, all that.
Granted, this fundamental concept isn’t exactly one that our core readership embraces, but there’s no point in denying that millions of poor, automtively-soul-less bastards like this do exist. And they still need to get around.
I think Lynk & Co generally knows what it’s doing in targeting this demographic, though it’s fair to say an awful lot of issues, especially those revolving around car sharing, have yet to be worked out.
In the interests of full disclosure, I have been talking with Lynk & Co about some ideas on how this could be made to work, by the way, just so you know.
While Lynk & Co doesn’t have everything worked out, my dealings with the people there have also shown a refreshing freedom from the arrogance of most carmakers, and they seem willing to be flexible and experiment until they find what works.
Oh, and I’m also left with a sense that Lynk & Co really needs to take it easy on their event youth-pandering; It’s not convincing anyone they’re cool, and I swear if anyone else tries to shove food in my mouth on a stick or fork or tong-point without warning me, I’m gonna start slapping mini-burger-laden trays out of hands.
Don’t test me.