Unlike the majority of Chinese automakers looking to the West, Lynk & Co seemed well-poised to bring a physical product to America — even though it had a share-based business model and a distribution plan that seemed counterintuitive. However, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has announced that it is delaying Lynk & Co’s product launch for Europe and the United States.
The reasoning behind the stall revolves around that unconventional distribution model, which initially involves online ordering and at-home deliveries. Zhejiang Geely now feels that Lynk needs more time to cultivate a company-owned dealership network.
“We think we will start in Europe between the first quarter and the first half of 2019 and enter the U.S. some months later,” Alain Visser, Lynk & CO’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, told Automotive News at the Shanghai auto show.
The original plan was to launch its 01 compact crossover into both markets by 2018 and see if it was worth putting money behind the exportation of its brand new 03 sedan (and whatever the 02 ends up being). As Lynk & Co’s entire lineup rides on the compact modular platform that Geely developed in cooperation with Volvo, whether or not the company opts to produce its models alongside Volvo in Belgium might be a good indicator of how seriously it is taking its European involvement.
While it’s not fair to accuse Zhejiang Geely of not having sincere intentions, Chinese automakers haven’t really delivered on their Western promises lately. But Lynk has largely stuck to its guns on how it wants to handle things. It still plans to offer all of its vehicles with the ability to be shared by the owner when not in use, via a proprietary app, and has maintained that it will be offering a lifetime warranty and free connectivity as standard features.
It also wants to remain focused on internet-based sales, but is beginning to acknowledge that having a dealer network might not be a bad idea. While servicing and parts could be handled by Volvo service centers, Lynk & Co also wants to build 500 of its own stores in Europe and North America.
“Because Lynk & Co will be the first brand to offer its owners the possibility to share their cars when they are not used, we are starting from cities with a high penetration of shared-economy services,” Visser said, “so that means Berlin in Europe and San Francisco in the United States.”
Visser has previously called the traditional dealership model “broken” and now says that Lynk & Co will centralize its sales locations in large shopping malls, as well as flagship and pop-up stores in cities around the globe. So, while Visser doesn’t seem to have a lot of faith in traditional automotive distribution methods, he certainly seems to believe strongly in the cell phone distribution strategy.
[Images: Lynk & Co]