The model has been designed and engineered in Sweden. It has an electrified powertrain and be built on modular architecture shared with Volvo’s forthcoming XC40.
The 01 is claimed to have a premium specification and to “address the needs and preferences of the new global and connected generation”. Lynk&Co's 01s will always be connected to the internet and to their own cloud. A standard 'share' button will let owners control, monitor and share their cars via a smartphone or from the car.
The new marque’s design philosophy has been developed at Geely Design in Sweden, led by group executive vice president and former Volvo design boss Peter Horbury. Designers say their aim was to create a strong personality that captures both European and Chinese genes.
“The design brief was simple,” said Andreas Nilsson, head of design. “Our car needed to stand out from the crowd and appeal to a global audience. Our users will be extremely tech-savvy. Our interior design reflects this and feels familiar in the context of new technology.”
The 01 is likely to have a range of transverse, front-mounted engines from Volvo’s family of 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 1.5-litre triples. Member of the board of directors for Geely and Volvo Carl-Peter Forster confirmed to Autocar that a plug-in hybrid version will follow soon after, with electric drive for both axles.
This suggests the drive systems will be derived from Volvo hybrid models, of which the XC40 sends electric drive to the front wheels and the larger XC90 to the rear wheels.
Transmissions are either six-speed manuals or seven-speed dual-clutch automatics.
The car measures 4.6m long. Lynk&Co said its wheelbase is comparably long, given the SUV's overall length, because the Chinese market really cares about rear cabin space and less about boot capacity.
As with all Lynk&Co models that will follow – and 02 and 03 models are already being mentioned – the 01’s creators say they aim to challenge current preferences within the motor industry.
“Our industry has been refining design and engineering successfully for decades,” said senior vice president Alain Visser, “but not so much the distribution and ownership model. Our customers’ values and preferences have evolved dramatically. It is time for us to step into the future.”
Eventually, Lynk&Co will offer “a premium, state-of-the-art range of cars at the most accessible price points,” said Visser, who has held top-level European sales positions at Vauxhall-Opel and Ford. “We will challenge and redesign every link in the chain.”
The Lynk&Co range will be closely related to Volvo's in order to improve Volvo's economies of scale. Geely and Volvo believe the platform underpinning it will have the versatility of Volkswagen's MQB architecture but be more affordable.
Rather than offering traditional trim levels, Lynk&Co will have fixed-price equipment collections that draw inspiration from contemporary fashion and technology sectors.
The new 01 SUV will have an open API (application programming interface), which will essentially allow outside developers to “enrich the automotive experience” of the 01 with new ideas of their own.
An important part of the Lynk&Co challenge, said Visser, is to offer customers a new route to market that features direct contact with the manufacturer, along with personalised services and hassle-free-ownership. “Our aim is to enrich and simplify ownership by redefining how cars are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used,” he said.
Lynk&Co believes the subsequent arrival of the 02 and 03 will build towards “a full range” whose straightforward model names reflect the brand’s idea of simplifying and challenging industry conventions.
The new models won’t neglect dynamic qualities, according to R&D boss Mats Fagerhag, who runs a shared Geely-Volvo R&D centre called CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology). The 01 has been benchmarked against good SUV competitors. “We have developed state-of-the-art cars that are strong, lightweight, efficient, fun to drive,” Fagerhag said.
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First drive: Lynk&Co 01 prototype