Geely gets in gear

Au­tomaker hopes to at­tract tech­nol­ogy-savvy mo­torists in the world’s ma­jor megac­i­ties

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By By ZHANG ZHANG CHUNYAN CHUNYAN in in Ber­lin Ber­lin zhangchun­yan@chi­nadaily. zhangchun­yan@ com.cn chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese au­tomaker Geely launches a new brand of car in Ber­lin in a drive to cap­ture the midrange mar­ket.

Chi­nese au­tomaker Geely launched a new brand of car— Lynk & Co —on Thurs­day in Ber­lin in its drive to seize the midrange mar­ket.

The medium-sized, tech­laden SUV was de­vel­oped by Geely’s China Euro Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy R&D cen­ter in Gothen­burg, Swe­den.

Li Shufu, chair­man and founder of Geely, said that the new brand merges safety and high qual­ity with mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, em­body­ing the re­sponse from the tra­di­tional au­tomaker to the chal­lenges of in­ter­net com­pa­nies.

Li stressed the strong re­search and de­vel­op­ment ties be­tween Geely and Volvo, a com­pany it ac­quired six years ago, led to the new prod­uct.

The R&D cen­ter in Swe­den has grown from noth­ing to more than 1,000 em­ploy­ees and con­sul­tants in just three years.

The de­sign of the new Lynk & Co auto is dis­tinct from con­cept cars, and has a mod­ern Euro­pean look.

“This car points to­ward the fu­ture,” said Peter Hor­bury, Geely’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of de­sign. “It shows the de­sign lan­guage is ver­sa­tile and flex­i­ble.”

Hor­bury said the car has a per­son­al­ity with both Euro­pean and Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The brand tar­gets tech­savvy driv­ers, es­pe­cially young peo­ple in megac­i­ties such as Bei­jing, Shang­hai, New York and Lon­don.

An­dreas Nils­son, Geely’s head of de­sign, said: “Our car needed to stand out from the crowd and ap­peal to a global au­di­ence. Our in­te­rior de­sign re­flects this and feels fa­mil­iar in the con­text of new tech­nol­ogy.”

The mak­ers say the car of­fers an en­tirely new way to own and use ave­hi­cle. Reg­is­tered own­ers will be able to rent out their car to oth­ers us­ing the Lynk & Co app and a share­able dig­i­tal key, said Alain Visser, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent at Lynk & Co.

The first ve­hi­cle will make its de­but in China in 2017, and will launch in Europe and the US in 2018.

An­a­lysts say the brand is likely to be less lux­u­ri­ous than Volvo, but higher rated than Geely, and will go headto-head with Volk­swa­gen, Toy­ota, Ford and Hyundai.

Michael D Dunne, pres­i­dent of Dunne Au­to­mo­tive, an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory com­pany, said: “It com­bines Chi­nese fi­nan­cial and man­u­fac­tur­ing ef­fi­ciency with an in­ter­na­tional team of de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers. It will com­pete with main­stream prod­ucts.”

But the road ahead for any new brand of auto could be bumpy.

Nam­rita Chow, prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst at IHS Au­to­mo­tive, a global in­for­ma­tion com­pany, said the per­for­mance of the brand will de­pend on its price.

“One of the chal­lenges will come from China’s lo­cal pro­duc­ers” be­cause many of them have also done well with R&D and sales in re­cent years, Chow said.

Geely saw sales of its fea­ture-packed cars grow for 16 con­sec­u­tive months to Septem­ber.

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