The ‘Co’ in Geely’s new car brand Lynk&Co doesn’t stand for company; it stands for connected. To that end, all of the brand’s models will feature ‘the world’s first in-car share button’.
How very millennial. But, wait, come back! The share button you’ll find in Lynk&Co's 02 isn’t actually about sticking selfies on social media; it’s a key part of the new firm’s subscription system.
While you will be able to buy a Lynk&Co car outright, the company’s primary sales route will be a subscription service – also used by sister firm Volvo’s sub-brand Polestar - that in effect offers short-term leasing for a minimal commitment. Think Netflix or Spotify for cars (yes, how very millennial).
The twist comes when subscribers press that share button. It makes their car available to other people – initially other Lynk&Co subscribers via an app. The company's keys will have the ability to unlock other Lynk&Co cars.
So why would you let a stranger walk up and drive your car? Simple: it’s good business. Here’s how Lynk&Co boss Alain Visser explains it: “If your subscription is, say, £400 a month, but you travel five days a month, you can share your car out for £20 a day, so your cost of ownership goes down.”
It’s less Spotify and more Airbnb, then (okay, but still quite millennial). Particularly if, as Lynk&Co is planning, the use of the app is expanded beyond subscribers to a wider network.
Peer-to-peer car-sharing services aren’t a new invention; there are growing app services and some companies are now offering it as an alternative to airport parking. But Lynk&Co is among the first car brands to place it at the centre of its ownership model. However, Visster admits that there are still lots of questions to answer; for example, would strangers walk onto your driveway and pick up your car?
The big question, though, is: will people use it? Would you be prepared to let strangers drive your car (well, the one you’re subscribing to) when you’re not using it?
I’m not fully convinced. What happens, for example, if someone doesn’t return my car on time or returns it without a full tank of petrol? And, on a more trivial basis, it takes me ages to get my seat perfectly adjusted to my liking and I tend to leave loads of clutter in my car. Even if sharing my car cuts my monthly costs, I’m not sure I’d be prepared to.
I'm not doubting Lynk&Co's subscription model; when Polestar was launched, I wrote a piece explaining why such a model could have strong appeal. I'm just not convinced that I'd want to basically sublet my car.
Maybe that’s just me. After all, I’d never consider loaning my spare room via an app. Perhaps I’m just not a connected millennial type; there's a generation now who has never owned cassettes or CDs but happily subscribe to a streaming service. Perhaps subscribing to a car, rather than owning one, would change my mindset, especially if the financial incentives are strong enough.
I'm intrigued to know what you think. So can car-sharing work and would you be prepared to do it?