Geely to launch global mass-market car brand
Chinese automaker Geely Automobile is set to launch a new car brand -- Lynk & Co -- on October 20, sources said, as it seeks to broaden its appeal by tackling the global middle market.
The brand will be used to launch the first vehicle based on the Compact Modular Architecture platform developed by Geely and Swedish automaker Volvo Car Corp., which Geely acquired from Ford Motor Co. six years ago.
Geely's new brand will compete in China with mass-market models such as those produced by General Motors and SAIC Motor Corp. That would allow Volvo to focus on the luxury market.
The brand is codenamed "L" representing Lynk & Co, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Geely has launched a website which notes next week's launch date, but the website offers no details about the models or brand.
However, the U.S. business magazine Forbes reported this month that the new brand will market plug-in hybrid vehicles. Forbes cited anonymous sources, and Geely has not commented on the products to be sold under the Lynk brand.
If the Forbes report proves accurate, it would suggest that Geely plans to create a Tesla-style brand of electric cars.
The website -- lynkco.com -- shares Internet license and other registration details with Geely and China Euro Vehicle Technology, a subsidiary that coordinates research with Volvo.
"As you have seen on the Lynk & Co. website, CEVT is indeed the company behind this website and it's no secret that it is developing the CMA platform for Geely Auto," said Stefan Lundin, a CEVT spokesman based in Sweden.
Lundin said Lynk & Co will launch on October 20 in Berlin, but declined to elaborate.
Lynk & Co. will enter a tough Chinese auto market where the car industry has struggled with slowing economic growth.
Geely has weathered the slowdown better than most; sales of its feature-packed cars have grown for 16 consecutive months.
Launching a new car brand can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, according to James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief for IHS Markit Automotive.
The brand will launch with an SUV and a sedan also is under development for the new brand, sources told Reuters in April. The marque's cars would first be sold in China and later in the United States and Europe, the sources said.
The cars will be sold through Geely's existing dealership network in China, said one source. Geely will build new assembly plants to produce cars for the new brand. Once it is established in China, it will export to other markets, the source said.
A separate Lynk & Co website posted to its official Weibo account announces a contest to guess what future modes of transportation might be. "What can cars still bring us? What new possible means of travel will tomorrow bring?"