BEIJING -- Chinese automaker Geely Automobile is set to launch a new car brand - Lynk & Co - on Oct. 20, sources said, as it seeks to broaden its appeal by tackling the middle market.
The brand's cars are expected to go on sale first in China next year and later in Europe and the U.S.
The brand will be used to launch the first vehicle based on the Complex Modular Architecture (CMA) platform developed by Geely and Swedish automaker Volvo, which Geely acquired from Ford Motor six years ago.
The new middle market brand will compete in China with Chinese-foreign venture cars such as those produced by General Motors and SAIC Motor Corp. - leaving Volvo to focus on the luxury end and Geely to go up against domestic producers.
The brand is codenamed "L" representing Lynk & Co, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. It has already launched a holding website, showing next week's launch date.
Geely declined to comment.
The website - lynkco.com - shares Internet license and other registration details with Geely and China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT), a subsidiary that coordinates research and development with Volvo. The site does not, though, provide details on the brand or cars.
"As you have seen on the Lynk & Co website, CEVT is indeed the company behind this website and it's no secret that it is developing the CMA platform for Geely Auto," said Stefan Lundin, a CEVT spokesman based in Sweden.
Lundin said Lynk & Co would launch on Oct. 20 in Berlin, but declined to elaborate on the nature of the venture.
Lynk & Co will enter a tough Chinese auto market where the car industry has struggled with slowing economic growth since last year. Geely has weathered the slowdown better than most, with sales of its feature-packed cars growing for 16 consecutive months to September.
Launching a new car brand can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, according to James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief for IHS Markit Automotive.
The brand will launch with an SUV and sedan is also under development for the new brand, sources told Reuters in April, The marque's cars would first be sold in China and later in the U.S. and Europe, the sources said.
The cars will be sold through Geely's existing dealership network in China, said one individual with direct knowledge of the plan. New factories will be set up to make cars for the new brand and once it is established in China it will export to other markets, the person said.
A separate Lynk & Co website posted to its official Weibo account announces a contest to guess what future modes of transportation might be. "What can cars still bring us? What new possible means of travel will tomorrow bring?"