BERLIN -- Geely Automobile's new global brand, Lynk & CO, will mount a Tesla-like challenge to the U.S. franchised dealer system as it pushes for 500,000 annual global sales within five years.
Plans for the 2018 U.S. launch of the first vehicle -- a compact crossover developed with Geely-owned Volvo Car Corp. -- are far from complete. But initially Geely foresees:
- Retail sales and delivery of Internet-bought vehicles via a network of company-owned dealerships.
- A strong effort to maximize online sales.
- Service and parts through the existing Volvo dealer network or independent chains. Both Lynk parent Geely Automobile and Volvo Cars are owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
"We will discuss with various states our distribution model that is efficient, offers better prices for consumers and creates jobs, and we are open to listen," Lynk Senior Vice President Alain Visser said in an interview at the brand's unveiling here on Thursday, Oct. 20.
Visser said Lynk's first target in the U.S. is California and Florida could be the second state where the new brand -- whose models were designed and engineered in Sweden and will be built in China -- is sold. The brand will be launched in China late next year and in Europe in 2018.
Research shows that about 10 percent of U.S. and European customers are eager to buy their next car over the Internet, but less than 2 percent do it, Visser said. For that reason, Lynk will need significant market coverage with company-owned dealerships, which also will deliver cars bought on the brand's website, he said.