China’s Geely shows global ambitions, launching new compact SUV in Germany
Chinese companies have been snapping up cutting-edge German technology to push upmarket and gain a global footprint. This year alone, Chinese home appliances maker Midea has agreed to buy German robotics firm Kuka and Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund LP is taking over semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron.
Long seen as a cheap, no-frills brand in China and unheard of in Europe, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group purchased struggling Swedish carmaker Volvo from Ford in 2010 to help it leapfrog a decade of research and development.
While Volvo will continue to focus on premium vehicles, Lynk is an attempt to grab a slice of the mid market. It will initially take on foreign carmakers’ joint ventures in China, but – as shown by the global launch in Berlin — it also aims to challenge the world’s biggest automakers in their own markets.
At the launch of the ‘01’ model at a former railway station in Berlin that now frequently hosts start-up conventions, Alain Visser, Senior Vice President at Lynk & Co, described the SUV as “our first smartphone on wheels.” It is targeting tech-savvy consumers that may have prioritised flexibility over car ownership in the past. “We are looking very much at millennial consumers all over the world who are very much concentrated around bigger cities,” he said. Each car will be permanently connected to the Internet and have a “share” button, enabling owners to rent out their car to other motorists via a smartphone app.