Lynk & Co, the promising startup sister brand of Volvo and Polestar, is finally coming to the U.S. with an all-new fully electric model.
According to Automotive News Europe, the automaker will break ground in the U.S. with a replacement for its aging plug-in hybrid simply called "01." The fully electric example is slated to launch in Europe late next year and is then expected to undergo homologation efforts in order to be sold in the U.S. Where it will be assembled is an open question; to take advantage of U.S. tax breaks, the company would need to produce the car Stateside.
Lynk & Co has been rumored to launch stateside several times since 2018, though no plans ever came to fruition. Despite this, the automaker has already proved to be immensely successful outside of the U.S., racking up more than 650,000 vehicle sales since 2017, in part by using shared technology from other Geely-owned brands, such as Volvo's Compact Modular Architecture.
So why the long wait for a U.S. launch? The reasoning has at least two parts.
First, a new car is coming soon. Lynk & Co's CEO, Alain Visser, says that it doesn't make sense for the company to enter a new market with an aging vehicle and then switch its product only a year later.
The second part of the puzzle, according to Visser, is the “insanely complicated” dealership franchise laws of the U.S. have been difficult for the company to navigate. The automaker currently operates in a similar fashion to Tesla where its orders are all placed online. Previously, this has required any automaker that provides direct-to-consumer sales to jump through some rather unorthodox hoops in some states.
Customers can choose to "buy a damn good car" directly, lease it, or enter into a subscription model where Lynk & Co retains ownership of the vehicle, but essentially rents the vehicle to its customers with maintenance, insurance, and other costs baked in. In Europe, customers can even rent out their vehicles to other subscribers to offset their monthly rental costs.
Needless to say, that's quite different than the buying model that most U.S. consumers are used to. It's not clear if Lynk & Co will deploy the same model when it launches stateside. Other automakers have tried similar approaches with little luck, with little surprise given that consumers seem to absolutely hate the idea of subscriptions. Then again, some dealers feel that the car subscription is inevitable, and the manufacturers that have tried in the past were just ahead of their time. Maybe Lynk & Co's approach will be different.
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