China and Sweden together, Geely and Volvo at the origin of the company. Chief Executive Officer Alain Visser talks about its genesis and objectives. A new form of mobility, free from traditional schemes
Two days in Gothenburg, face to face with Lynk & Co, the automotive service brand born six years ago from a joint venture between the Chinese Geely and the Swedish Volvo, operational in Italy since 2021. A unique opportunity to discover up close the concept on which the new is based provider which offers mobility solutions for a connected generation and which, for now, boasts only one car produced specifically for this purpose, the Link & Co 01, a plug-in Hybrid derived from the Volvo XC40. A service company as mentioned, not a classic automotive company. An innovative brand, one of the protagonists in the Scandinavian metropolis in full evolution, a real construction site that anticipates the future of a city in full reconversion. Gothenburg, the historic headquarters of the Swedish brand Volvo, (now part of the Chinese conglomerate Geely, like Link & Co itself and Polestar), is changing its face, a change driven by the electric transition. An unstoppable paradigm shift that is overwhelming the automotive industry known until now. And it is in Gothenburg that the headquarters of Lynk & Co are located, headed by the managing director Alain Visser, a man determined to change the modus operandi of international car manufacturers and their distribution networks. In recent years, Alain has been mentioned by Forbes Magazine in the top ten Cmo (marketing director) most influential in the world for his honest and straightforward way of introducing big changes in the industry. A past in the “classic” automotive world that began in 1986, the Belgian from Antwerp was vice president of Volvo Cars’ global marketing, sales and customer service division. He also worked at General Motors for eight years, where he held the role of Chief Marketing Officer and vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales of Opel / Vauxhall. Alain was also a member of the board of directors of Adam Opel AG and, before that, he worked for Ford for 17 years. We chatted with Alain in his office, a direct man, outspoken, but also very nice, ready to joke and make rigorously intelligent jokes, a sui generis CEO, without a shadow of a doubt, like the company he manages, and this is what he told us.
In Italy, some politicians have said that the transition of the automotive world to electricity planned for 2035 is in fact a favor to China. What do you think?
“I honestly don’t understand their point, their position. Of course China is pushing a lot on electric cars, in China they sell many more than in Europe, but not many more. Numerous batteries are developed in China, while Europe he’s sleeping on this aspect. Elon Musk showed how to make an electric car and the Germans are still sleeping, they got there years later. The whole auto industry is old and doesn’t want to change, doesn’t want to go electric. I think that China is probably different. If we want to start over with the auto industry we need the latest technology available. This is not a favor to China and I think those who are currently sleeping will soon be penalized and have a hard time catching up. Governments in Europe they are sleeping because they push on electricity, but they don’t invest in infrastructure, the same can be said of the big oil companies like Shell or BP. Why don’t they invest? service brand “will become the brand and not the product. The automobile industry has to become a supplier of the mobility brands, ultimately you don’t fly with Boeing, you fly with Lufthansa or another company. “
How has your experience in the automotive world that started in 1986 influenced the work you do today?
“Sometimes I have regrets, I wonder how I managed to resist so much. Sometimes past experience helps me to convince myself incredibly in what I’m doing now, but also in what I don’t want to do. It’s interesting, sometimes, when I compare myself with our guys who come from the automotive world on projects that seem innovative, they tell me that I’m going back to thinking according to the old patterns and I say to myself, damn how is that possible? Sure, after 35 years I had some sort of “brainwashing.” I think I learned a lot about the business models of a really complex and complicated industry, but it was still very exciting. The current one is not an easy journey to take, but it is really exciting, every Friday we meet online our salespeople and it’s a really fun time, it’s not as boring as it used to be and I don’t want to go back to those levels (laughing, ed) “.
What do you think of Apple’s possible landing in the automotive world? Could it mimic your formula?
“When Apple decides to enter the automotive world we will do well to fasten the seat belts, I have no doubts about that (still laughing, ed). And they will do it well, I don’t know what their business model will be, but their financial possibilities are endless. I don’t know if they will be able to imitate our services and business models, but they will certainly never copy our experience and that is why we are more focused on clubs, spaces for sharing and meeting between members of the digital community, within which it is It is possible to familiarize yourself with the car, participate in events and workshops “.
“Lynk & Co”, Alain, can you explain the origin of the name?
I’ll be really honest with you (always laughing, ed). A few months ago I read an article in a magazine that explained the origin of the name “Lynk” as the connection between East and West and “Co” because it is more than a car. I said to myself: what a clever idea, we hadn’t thought about it. There was actually a codename for the car, “Lynk”, but I thought “Lynk” was a boring name anyway, it could be the name of any car rental. In 2016, this is a true story, I was in a taxi in Gothenburg with the marketing manager after having a couple of glasses of wine. We both thought we were using a name that didn’t sound like a car brand at all. We thought of the letter “&” often used in the fashion industry, Bull & Bear, Tiffany & Co., Abercrombie & Fitch … And we thought, Lynk &, but Link & what? Lynk & 1, Lynk & 2, Lynk & Co. Lynk & Co sounded good and we picked it. We didn’t even test it and I can tell you, everyone hated it, from engineers to designers. When the name was finally approved, my team loved it. A young Swedish guy, the chief engineer came to my office, his face was not very happy and he told me that I should be ashamed of myself instead of being happy because they had been working for five years on a fantastic car that I had given a name of m … This is a true story, I can tell it because now he has left the company. Instead, regarding the name of the car, 01, we had hired many creative agencies to find naming cool for our first car, but I blocked everything by saying that our cars would be called by number: 01, 02, 03 and so on. They told me if I was joking, I said no and it would be like this. But the engineers told me I couldn’t do it, I replied why not? They were upset, because the number 3 could not be smaller than the 1. They told me that this is how it works in the automotive world, The Bmw 1 is smaller than the Bmw 3, same thing for Audi. No, our first car would be called 01 and it did. Lynk & Co is not Audi, that’s how it went. Seriously, I could write a book about car names, car “naming” is a real legal nightmare, every name you choose must be protected, you can easily be sued for copyright infringement, while numbers can’t be filed as a trademark “.
Lynk & Co 01: the Plug-in Hybrid Car
The SUV produced by the innovative Swedish brand derives from the Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge. The 01 is equipped with a 180 Hp 1.5-cylinder 3-cylinder petrol engine combined with an 82 Hp electric engine for a total power of 262 Hp. Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 17.6 kWh battery allows an electric range of about 70 km and is recharged in just 5 hours at 230 V. The car, full optional, with a modern, compact and clean design as per Scandinavian tradition, sports a ultra-technological cockpit with a 12.7-inch touch screen display and a 12.3-inch digital driver screen, internet and cloud access, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Two colors, blue and black. As with Netflix, the 01 can be taken as a monthly subscription, all-inclusive and with no down payment, at a cost of 550 euros which can be canceled at any time. The new formula also provides for the possibility of sharing the SUV with other people, always subscribed to the service, for a fee at a price set by the owner of the season ticket, thanks to the special sharing platform with which it is also possible to earn money. The 01 can also be purchased at a price of 42,500 euros.
June 23, 2022 (change June 23, 2022 | 14:06)
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