Lynk & CO chief Alain Visser probably has one of the most fascinating jobs in the auto industry. The former General Motors and Toyota executive is tasked with building a brand completely from scratch. Engineered in Sweden, built in China, Lynk & CO hopes to tap into a new vein of demand by taking the metaphor of a car as the ultimate "smartphone on wheels" to a new level. Connectivity and sharing will be the core differentiating feature from the start. Visser discussed the genesis of the brand with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
Does the world really need another car brand?
Honestly, were you to ask me as an individual entrepreneur if I would start a business, would it be a new car brand, no it wouldn’t be. Looking at the mobility and connectivity needs globally, though, I am strongly convinced that there is a demand not currently being fulfilled by today's offer.
What approach will you take?
There are three ways to start a new company: you can take an existing business model and try to improve upon it, which is what the car industry has been doing for 100 years. You can create an entirely new desire, which is what Apple did with the touchscreen smartphone. Or you can identify a hole in the market where a need exists. I think Lynk & CO is somewhere in between the latter two.
There is a need to have a different type of mobility offer in the market place that is neither offered by the taxi companies or Ubers, nor by the OEMs and that's what we are targeting. We’re not a pure services provider like Uber, nor do I see us as a pure OEM that sells cars: we sell services based upon a product.
When will you reveal your model range and roll out plans for Europe?
While most if not all models will be offered in China, Lynk & CO's portfolio will not be the same elsewhere to take account of local market conditions: some cars sold in the U.S. will likely not be available in Europe and vice versa. Less is more. After our launch in China in November this year, we will most likely disclose more of the details of our portfolio plan for the coming two years, including for Europe and the U.S.