PARIS -- Lynk & CO, an automaker jointly owned by China's Geely and Volvo, plans to open its first showroom in France by early 2024 and to expand in Europe, including Britain, its CEO and founder told Reuters.
The automaker, which both sells and rents cars on monthly subscriptions, already has what it calls clubs, which look like bars or lifestyle shops, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Italy.
Lynk & CO, which only offers a Chinese-made plug-in hybrid SUV called 01 in black and blue, will launch a full-electric model, the 02, by the end of 2024, Alain Visser said in an interview.
"We have plans to enter other European markets in the short term: Norway, Austria, Switzerland and the U.K.," said Visser, who worked for General Motors, Ford, and Volvo before Lynk & CO.
Visser said the brand had the "ambition" to also branch out into the U.S. market at some stage.
Though small, Lynk & CO's expansion plans are the latest example of Geely seeking to grow its foothold in Europe as the appeal of Chinese cars, particularly electric vehicles, increases.
The Chinese giant, which controls Volvo and last week increased its stake in Britain's Aston Martin to 17 percent, in January detailed plans to grow its Zeekr and London Electric Vehicle marques in Europe.
It is also a partner in a new powertrain company being set up with Renault.
In 2022 Chinese-made electric vehicles already had a 9 percent market share in Europe, nearly double the previous year, according to consultancy Inovev, and the pace is picking up.
Lynk & CO says it had 200,000 monthly memberships in Europe as of April, of which around 25,000 are in France, up from 180,000 and 21,000 respectively a month earlier.
In France, where the automaker plans to open its first selling space in Paris in late 2023 or early 2024, it offers a monthly subscription rate of 550 euros, with a full purchase price of 44,500 euros ($48,986) in the premium segment, higher than SAIC-owned MG Motor.
The French government, lobbying to attract foreign gigafactories and automaking plants, is planning to make a 5,000-euro ($5,504) subsidy available to electric car buyers conditional on meeting low-carbon standards when manufactured - which it says would in effect exclude cars not made in Europe.
Visser said Lynk & CO would have to consider manufacturing cars in Europe, also given rising tensions between China and the U.S.
"It's becoming more and more necessary to have local manufacturing sites ... rather than import cars from China."