Lynk & Co’s compact SUV costs €500 a month but might earn you a profit

Car company Lynk & Co has finally revealed the details of its hybrid ownership model, which lets people subscribe to its Lynk & Co 01 compact SUV for €500 per month, with the option of renting the vehicle to other Lynk & Co members to begin earning that fee back.

At a launch event today, the company said customers could even make a profit on their €500 a month subscription if they’re able to rent out their vehicle with enough frequency. The company’s 01 hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars will begin shipping to European members in April.

The Lynk & Co brand was first announced in 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden as a “born digital” alternative to Volvo, the company that spawned Lynk & Co with help from their Chinese parent Geely. Lynk & Co CEO Alain Visser is a 30-year auto industry veteran of Ford, General Motors, and Volvo.

There are two kinds of Lynk & Co members: those paying for a car and those who rent cars. Members looking to rent can join for free in the Lynk & Co app. Members with a car can set their own price and conditions for rentals, including car pickup and drop-off locations. A member with a car can share their digital key to free members to open their rented vehicle.

The €500 membership fee can also be split between multiple individuals, allowing a group of friends in the same city to share a single car. The monthly fee includes insurance and servicing by the Volvo dealer network. (Digital keys can also be shared with Volvo, to let its employees retrieve your car and return it when servicing is complete.) The monthly fee doesn’t cover the cost of fuel or electricity, however. Paid memberships can be canceled with one month’s notice.

The Lynk & Co 01 can also be purchased outright and then rented to members. The standalone price will be announced in the next couple of weeks, the company says. In China the 01 is only sold directly, as the company claims the market isn’t mature enough to support the membership model. In China, the 01 originally listed at just under $24,000 when it first went on sale in 2017.

Lynk & Co will initially offer the 01 compact SUV in two colors, blue or black, and two powertrains, hybrid or plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid is capable of going 68km (42.25 miles) on electricity only. The new 01 differs from the original 01 in a number of ways. The face has some slight tweaks (but remains largely unchanged visually) while inside the cars there’s a new infotainment system, a new airbag configuration for Europe, and the use of more sustainable fabrics made from recycled fishing nets.

The Lynk & Co club concept is meant to inject a sense of cool into the brand. The company envisions opening up “clubs,” not dealerships, in major European cities where both paying and free members can hang out with local artists, DJs, and chefs, for example, or be treated to exclusive “product drops.” Its first club will open in Amsterdam at the end of October, followed by a second in Gothenburg before the end of the year.

“Young customers more than ever like cool things and like cool brands,” says Visser in a video promo. “By being a member of Link & Co you also get access to fun things, to fun brands, to fun artists. Whether it’s music festivals or artists [or] art galleries. So you don’t just get access to a car, you also get access to events that happen in your neighborhood.” During today’s launch event, Visser also conceded that “trying to be cool is not cool.”

Launching a new sharing concept and brand in the age of social distancing won’t be easy. But at least by choosing Amsterdam, Lynk & Co is putting itself in front of a city filled with young, multi-modal professionals who already share cars using services like Greenwheels, SnappCar, Fetch, and Share Now (the joint venture operated by Daimler and BMW formerly known as Car2go). It doesn’t guarantee success but at least its car sharing model stands a chance.