“This is not a car, this is different” is how Lynk & Co, a company spawned by Volvo and Geely, is positioning the launch of its 01 plug-in hybrid, a compact SUV built from the ground up to share. The more you share its digital key the less you pay each month, possibly even turning a profit.
It’s a bold experiment that I was able to preview in a test vehicle in Amsterdam, where Lynk & Co is staging its first salvo against a century of car ownership mentality.
Lynk & Co first announced its ambitious approach to car sharing five years ago in its home city of Gothenburg, Sweden, emboldened by studies that say cars sit unused 96 percent of the time. That’s valuable real estate that could otherwise be returned to people. So it’s with some anticipation that I set out for my week with a production 01 PHEV running pre-production sharing software.
Amsterdam was chosen as Lynk & Co’s launch city for a variety of reasons, chief among them is its multi-modal inhabitants’ intimacy with car-sharing services. My Dutch family, for example, has never owned a car, nor do most of my friends. Instead we use fleet sharing services like Greenwheels, Mywheels, or Share Now. Otherwise we use a personal car-sharing service like Snappcar when looking for something more interesting to drive. As much as we love our electric bicycles, a car is often needed when an e-scooter, taxi, bus, or train just won’t do.
After a week of testing I’ve come away increasingly optimistic about Lynk & Co’s chances, not only to achieve its revenue goals but also its broader societal goal of making people realize that traditional ideas of car ownership, especially in densely populated cities, are woefully outdated. My optimism is fueled by three things: the company’s early success in attracting members, driving the 01 for a few hundred kilometers, and testing an early beta version of the sharing service.
A PROMISING START
You can buy a Lynk & Co 01 outright for €39,000, but most people are opting for memberships that cost €500 each month. That’s about what you’d pay each month on a four-year lease for a comparable Volvo XC40 which is built upon the same platform as the 01. Only with Lynk & Co you can cancel the agreement at any time. Better yet, you can divide the monthly fee with family and friends, or reduce it further by lending the car out to a general pool of neighbors and tourists at an hourly or daily rate, all of which Lynk & Co will facilitate (more on that later).
Membership includes 1,250km (777 miles) of driving per month with each extra kilometer costing €0.15, and unused kilometers carrying over to the next month. The €500/month fee covers insurance, warranty repairs, roadside assistance, and maintenance by Volvo’s dealer