Lynk&Co has been built as a brand-new car company, proudly trying to stand out by taking a different approach with concepts like its subscription model and focus on a relatively young urban audience.
That presented a unique challenge for Andreas Nilsson, a senior vice president of parent company Geely Automotive – to give life to a car brand that didn’t exist 18 months ago. The company has already launched the 01 SUV, which is available for order in China, and revealed a concept for the 03 saloon.
Nilsson began his career at Volvo, helping with the XC90, and also spent a period of time at Ford. At the launch of Lynk&Co's third model, the European market-focused 02 small SUV, Autocar asked Nilsson about the move to a start-up firm with no heritage to draw on.
How much of a change was it to move from Volvo to Lynk&Co?
“I went to Ford for four years, so I’ve been through that swapping of brands. At Ford, it took me almost six months to wash out the Volvo DNA and start understanding Ford.
“I saw that when I hired new people for Lynk&Co. Wherever they came from, they had that firm’s DNA programmed into their sketching hand, but we couldn’t point and say ‘no, you shouldn’t do this, do this instead’, because we didn’t have our own DNA for Lynk&Co.
“We had to create it from nothing. It was difficult. It was a lot harder than anyone thought. When you tell a designer you have to follow this rule or that guideline, it puts up boundaries and they don’t want to listen, they want to break rules. But with a new firm, you have no boundaries, and so you don’t know what to break, or where to go.”
So how hard was it to come up with a design for the first Lynk&Co models?
“It’s frustrating, after a while. What do you do? We tried this, and we tried that, but that reminded us of that brand, and we wanted to do fresh and new.
“We had to be quite radical, and we know Lynk&Co is a bit provocative, and a bit love and hate it. We didn’t want to be bland.”
The 02 has some unique elements, but it isn’t totally radical. Did you consider pushing it further?
“We didn’t want to do a design that was just stylised, we wanted it to feel coherent and well thought out. It should feel coherent and well thought through. That’s the European side of the brand coming through. That sort of sensible manner has to be applied throughout. Then we go crazy with details here and there, but we contain it so it’s not everywhere. It should feel like a quality product.”