Lynk & CO has unveiled a pre-production version of the O2, its latest model, and announced its plans to start selling its second crossover across Europe in 2020.

Lynk & CO is a startup backed by China and is also a sister company of Volvo.

The company described the O2 as a “sport crossover SUV,” sitting on a shortened, lowered, and widened version of the Compact Modular Architecture that it shares with the O1 crossover and the Volvo XC40.

Volvo and its sibling brand Geely Automobile both co-developed the CMA underpinnings. Zhejiang Geely Holding, Geely Auto, and Volvo all jointly own Lynk & CO. Volvo has a 30 percent stake, Geely has 50 percent, and Zhejiang Geely Holdings has the remaining 20 percent.

The O1 compact crossover was Lynk & CO’s first model. It was launched on sale in China last November. Meanwhile, the European versions of the O1 are set to go on sale during the first quarter of 2020, according to the company.

The O1 is scheduled to be made along with XC40 at Volvo’s plant located in Ghent, Belgium. The O2 is also set to be manufactured at the same location. In addition, Lynk & CO has plans to launch the models in North America. It also said that it was considering US production.

Lynk & CO was founded in 2015 by Zhejiang Geely Holding, which is a Chinese company that owns Volvo. It has pledged to simplify the buying and ownership experience. The company’s plan is to sell automobiles online and via retail stores. It would also pursue a monthly subscription model.

The car models produced by Lynk & CO will come with a smart phone app that can handle car-sharing. The company is also offering “expressions,” which is what it prefers to call the four different trim versions of the models.

Future Plans

The brand’s first European sales outlet is planned to be opened in Amsterdam first, followed by outlets in Barcelona. After those outlets, it would also open sales stores in Berlin, Brussels, and London.

Cities that will not be propped up with stores will be provided by rotating pop-up shops. The plan is to transport these shops via 20 trucks, making a total of 700 stops in 2020. Lynk & CO executives stated that this setup would let them save at least 10 percent, if compared with conventional distribution expenses.

The models in Europe will be equipped with plug-in hybrid powertrains to start.

Meanwhile, Lynk & CO has also teased a concept of the O3, a midsize sedan, along with the o1 and o2 crossovers.


Aggressive expansion

Lynk & CO is just one among the China-owned automobile companies attempting to break into the European market.

Other Chinese automakers that try to enter the market include Great Wall, Chery, and MG. This is due to Europe’s rapidly growing SUV segments. Two of Lynk & CO’s three announced models are crossovers or sports utility vehicles.

Alain Visser, who is a veteran of Ford, General Motors Europe, and Volvo, is leading the brand. Visser previously served as the global vice president of marketing, sales, and customer service for Volvo. Meanwhile, the design that enthusiasts will see on the brand is handled by Andreas Nilson. Nilson has been a design director at Geely since 2013. He started his career at Volvo, before moving to Ford. Nilson returned to Volvo in 2009.

Visser said that Lynk & CO aims to sell around 500,000 cars yearly by 2021. Half of that figure would be in China, while 125,000 would be in Europe and the US each.

Geely has been extensively expanding its global reach in the past years. Aside from Volvo and Lynk & CO, its automotive holdings include Geely brand cars, which are sold in China. It took controlling interest in the Malaysian automaker Proton last year. It also holds UK-based sports-car maker Lotus, as well as the British maker of London taxis, London EV Company.

Further, it took over American startup Terrafugia, which aims to manufacture flying cars for commercialization.

Geely’s founder and chairman, Li Shufu, has poured 7 billion euros to obtain 9 percent of Daimler. That move made Geely the largest shareholder in the German automotive group.

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