The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch
Head of Design Andreas Nilsson describes which values were most influential in determining the identity and design direction of the new auto company
Following the reveal of the 01, LYNK & CO’s debut vehicle as an auto brand, PSFK spoke with Andreas Nilsson, Head of LYNK & CO design, about what distinguishes the brand and how it was brought to life starting from a blank sheet of paper.
From a design perspective, LYNK & CO is a freshly launched automobile brand. What are the characteristics that set it apart from all other existing automakers?
I think when we started this, we wanted to make a bold statement. It’s a design driven brand, so naturally, design is very important. The first thing we worked on was getting really beautiful proportions. If you look at the car, the wheel to body ratio is really good. The position of the wheels, the wheelbase, the wheel size, the overhangs are the fundamentals and if you get those right, you have a very good starting point. We made sure to focus on that in the beginning to get those right. And then, of course we had to develop our own identity and form language. To do that we were searching a lot and we decided to do some workshops and brainstorming and we came up with four words that we agreed represent the values of the form language. The first one was personal; we believe if we make this a personal statement it will represent something we stand for and believe in. We didn’t want to be a big corporation hiding behind a big facade and anonymous.
Our personality was reflected by a very strong face and you see that identity reflected in the front with the eyes and the black band. Also, the way we have different ways of altering the car’s expression through color and materials. We can cater different vehicle personalities to the customers so they can choose their spec depending on what their personality is.
The LYNK & CO 01 debut model is a crossover, a very popular and now arguably the most mainstream vehicle segment. Why launch into a category that is already very crowded with competitors?
To establish a new brand, going for anything but the biggest segments would be strange. To make an impact, you of course need a very good product to hit that segment. But we believe we have an extremely good contender here for that segment. It is best in class roominess, in a good package with a lot of technical advancements and outstanding design. So we’re not afraid of going head on against the best competition in the hottest segment. China is the biggest market and that’s where we are launching sales first. It’s not the only segment we are going after, but it is the first one.
Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of LYNK & CO, referenced the trend with millennials to be more interested in purchasing laptops and digital devices than cars. The 01 model was said to be designed with millennials in mind so what elements or features about the car are intended to get their attention?
The 01 is definitely marketed towards the megacity millennials. Those were the people we studied when we developed this. It is a problem of having a car in the city with congestion and parking and ownership in general, but that is part of the whole LYNK & CO concept. There are different ways of enjoying this product. Owning it, sharing, a subscription, it will be possible to use it through friends or an extended family. Also the way we approached the product, we dare to be different and not just like all the other competitors. The way we stand out in the city landscape is an important factor for us so we made sure we had a strong front and read design and a distinctive side profile. So regardless of how you view the car, you can recognize it, it has instant recognition. We believe millennials want to have a personal statement and stand out, they don’t want to blend in. And the fact that they don’t want a car is that the car industry is old fashion and not up to date and they don’t follow the trends fast enough. The way we break up the car and the way we work with color and materials, we believe we can be much more dynamic and follow the trends and even set the trends.
The 01 looks very production ready, was that a decision from the very beginning to show a less conceptual or idealistic vehicle and do you feel this direction is exciting enough to grab people’s attention?
A lot of comments so far have acknowledged the production readiness of the 01 but some question whether some of the details will make it, I can say yes they will. So I think we are pushing the boundaries in a way no competitors are doing. But we also have a brand concept car, you might see some pictures coming soon. Of course we are always pushing the boundaries. LYNK & CO isn’t just this car, there are many more cars to come. You will see how this form language can adapt to different shapes and different body styles.
LYNK & CO’s parent company is Geely based in China, the 01 was designed in Sweden, what is the nationality of this car? Other auto brands are able to emphasize certain traits (craftsmanship, engineering, style) related to their countries of origin, but LYNK & CO essentially has no roots.
The direction we got when we started was that the 01 should have a Northern European feel to it. Then when you walk up and get closer, the details should have an eastern flair, an influence from Asia. So it’s a fusion design between east meets west. And it’s targeted towards the urban lifestyle. It’s a global product, but it is not a global brand. It is a very specific brand, it is an urban brand.
We’ve seen some automakers attempts at chasing the youth market, Toyota recently abandoned their Scion brand. Is LYNK & CO intended to be a youth brand and where do you see it fitting in relative to Geely and Volvo?
LYNK & CO is a much more progressive brand than both Volvo and Geely in terms of pushing lifestyle. It is much more edgy than Volvo which projects Scandinavian lifestyle. They have that specific position and it is very clear. Whereas this brand is more youthful, edgy and playful.
Without any heritage, what was the reference the design team drew on to develop the brand?
We didn’t have a heritage when we started this, we had nothing. That’s why we went personal, that’s who we are and that’s where we can start from. That personal aspect is important. Then we added a few more words to the concept. Respectful is one which address where the car should be used. If you look at Volvo, they are very much about outdoor living and the Scandinavian lifestyle. That’s not us. We know the car is going to be used in the city, so we acknowledge that from the get go. If you go to any megacity, it is really hectic, it is almost aggressive in the traffic, that’s why it looks kind of tough, bold and very solid. We wanted to add new technology because our customers are always connected. That is showcased through details like the headlights and in the interior. The high-tech features are enhanced and showcased, we don’t hide them, we expose them. It may be unconventional, but that is us. And the final and last one was dark. What do we mean by dark? Is is an attitude, complexity and mystique. So those four values together we believe create something really unique. So that is our starting point and we are already well ahead on the second, third and forth car. The second is in the pipeline and will be launched soon.