With a compact SUV named '01', China's Geely has launched a new premium brand called 'Lynk & Co' which boasts European credentials – designed and engineered in Sweden and sharing platform with Volvo Cars.

The new brand was launched at an event in Germany, highlighting the aim to achieve strong sales in Europe. The brand comes, it is claimed, with a new business model, an open API (application programming interface), personalised services, sharing possibilities and the first dedicated app store for cars. The first car in the range, the 01, is described as 'bold and tech-laden SUV, built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)'.

Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of Lynk & Co, said that Lynk cars will be premium, but "at the most accessible of price points, challenging and redesigning every link in the chain".

"Our aim is to enrich and simplify car ownership by redefining how they are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used," he said.

The Lynk & Co 01 will be followed by 02, 03 as a full range – reflecting the brand's idea of simplifying and challenging industry conventions, right down to model names, Lynk says.

The 01 is described as being characterised by a strong personality in its design, capturing both its European and Chinese genes, and the latest technology – the heart of which is an 'always connected' state, and open application programming interface (API).

The Swedish credentials for the new brand appear strong. 'Geely Design Sweden', part of Geely Design Global – led by Executive Vice President of Design for Geely Auto Group – Peter Horbury, has developed the design philosophy and form language for Lynk & Co with support from studios in Shanghai, Barcelona and Los Angeles.

Engineering and technology for the new range has been developed under CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology), the shared Geely and Volvo research and innovation centre. The 01 and 'forthcoming' Lynk models will be based on the CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) – an advanced modular architecture capable of accommodating many body styles and sizes – which also underpins Volvo's new compact car range and many upcoming Geely models.

Geely says it has 'engineers with decades of experience at some of the world's best car manufacturers developing the new range of Lynk models'.

The CMA architecture is described as 'wholly modular' and able to accommodate a wide range of different powertrains, electrical systems, passive and active safety systems and technologies.

All cars will come with a large central touchscreen and telematics systems that are always connected to the internet and the car's own cloud. In what may trigger cyber security concerns, the car has a share button, enabling the owner to provide others with access to the vehicle via a shareable digital key. The press release says that via the Lynk & Co app they control, monitor and share their car from a smartphone – or directly from the car.

Lynk & Co says that it will be open to outside innovation and aims to be the first organisation in the world to leverage a complete commercial platform, to bring innovative applications and services to the customer. Working with Microsoft and Alibaba to explore a whole new digital customer infrastructure for the car industry, it will offer new digital ordering, supply, sales and CRM systems and custom applications for user interaction. It has teamed up with Ericsson to create the 'latest car connectivity cloud'. The digital platform will feature an API4 open to third party developers, which will provide 'endless opportunities to personalise, enrich and expand the experience'.

As well as all its passive safety features, the 01 will feature Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB), Pedestrian Detection with automatic emergency braking, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) to name just some of its active safety systems.

There will be a seven-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT) developed by CEVT, which will be available across the line-up, alongside a manual gearbox. All models will offer electrified powertrains, Lynk says.

While the industry traditionally relies heavily on a dealership model, Lynk will interact directly with its customers. Lynk cars will be sold online or in owned stores in strategic retail locations, with fixed and transparent prices. Cars will be delivered, and picked up for service, directly at the door of the consumer. New solutions for car usage and access will be offered – from traditional ownership and leasing to subscription and sharing-membership. Lynk claims that with traditional distribution costs typically in the region of 25 percent of the price of a car, its business model will deliver significant savings, reflected in highly competitive pricing.

Brand positioning, future variants

The 01 will be the first vehicle for Geely's Lynk & Co brand. The new brand will be positioned between Geely and Volvo. The 01 won't become available until the fourth quarter of 2017. China will be the first market, to be followed by Europe and the USA in 2018. The 01 is a Honda CR-V sized SUV. It should be available with both combustion engines and as a PHEV.

Three other models are said to be planned, each also based on Geely and Volvo's CMA architecture: a sedan (project code: CS11), a hatchback (CH11), and a crossover (CC11). These have the model names: 2, 3 and 4. Despite the heavy European design and engineering inputs, all Lynk models will be manufactured in China.