Lynk & Co car-sharing lawyer slams auto brands as sustainability ‘hypocrites’

A boss of a car-sharing brand has called rival automakers hypocrites when it comes to sustainability.

At the recent launch of the Milan club of Lynk & Co, CEO Alain Vissier criticized automakers for cynically using “sustainability” as a buzzword when their products stood still for more than 95% of the time.

“Sustainability is a buzzword. no car company is sustainable. The cars they make could make a difference to the environment, yes, but they don’t do anything more than 95% of the time and that’s not okay,” Vissier said.

“Environmentally, they are hypocrites.

“New cars are cleaner on the road than older cars, but they emit large amounts of CO2 from production.

“The only way to equalize that CO2 is to drive them more so the on-road benefits kick in, but that doesn’t happen. That only happens when you share the cars with multiple users.”

Under Vissier’s leadership, Lynk & Co has moved to a subscription-based car-sharing business model, with the 01 plug-in hybrid crossover available for a monthly fee of €550, including insurance, maintenance and all expenses other than the road. tolls and fuel.

It has opened Lynk & Co clubs in major cities across Europe, which members can use as cafes, remote work sites, event locations or simply a low-pressure car showroom for the brand.

So far it has amassed 27,000 users in Europe, based on the idea that customers can subscribe to a Lynk & Co 01 for a month at a time.

Even then, Lynk & Co drivers can re-share their cars with other subscription club members, relying on an AirBnB-like rating system, to the point that it claims some drivers do it so often that they end up having their time with the car for free.

“Our plan was that the car would change ‘ownership’ twice a year.

“But we see that the average subscription keeps it for 12 months.

“The number of orders is increasing because right now people are putting off buying a new car.”

But Lynk & Co’s business model has struggled, particularly in its home market of China, where customers have rejected the subscription model entirely.

“In China, it’s a very different business model,” admitted Vissier.

“I almost decoupled from that side of the business. Chinese customers felt insulted by our business model.

“They prefer to buy the cars directly, and you can do that here (in Europe) too, but we decided a few years ago that we should change that business model in China.”

Volvo was the first serious automaker to try a subscription model in Europe, but abandoned it after less than a year due to lack of interest and perceived high prices.

“Our raison d’être is not to be a car brand but a mobility brand, but Volvo is a car brand,” explained Vissier.

“For them to be outside of who they have been for 100 years is hard, but that’s not us.”

Vissier also poured cold water on subscription requests from other automakers, insisting they weren’t who they claimed to be.

“No one is following us. Everyone is now talking about subscription but it’s blah blah marketing, because it’s short-term rental, not subscription, ”he insisted.

“People think they’ll win by buying a car. You won’t win buying a car. You do this once every three or four years and you’re dealing with someone who does it twice a day.

“With us you go online and you get them in black or blue and there are no options, and no dealer to talk to and it’s simple.”

Owned by Chinese powerhouse Geely, Lynk & Co insists the only path to sustainability is through car sharing – even more so than subscriptions.

“Am I saying we are the most sustainable automaker? No, I’m not,” Vissier admitted.

“It would be exaggerated, but we have this ambition.

“Today’s auto industry is not sustainable, so we’re trying to change that, and if a company doesn’t have a sustainability strategy, it doesn’t deserve to have customers or employees. “

But other automakers tried the car-sharing business model and it didn’t work, with Mercedes-Benz and BMW both offloading their car-sharing businesses after more than a decade of trying.

“We’ve tried this and looked at it and experimented with different ways to engage customers, and it doesn’t really help, environmentally or financially,” a rival insisted.

“How long do they keep the cars in the park before reselling them? Two years? They don’t get a big advantage in the two years and then the car becomes one of the other cars they complain about.

The obvious weak point in Lynk & Co’s sustainability argument is that its only model is a plug-in hybrid, not an electric car.

“When we started, we were going to have a car,” Vissier explained.

“Having only an EV was not a solution because of the charging infrastructure.

“I hope governments wake up and do something about charging infrastructure, because it’s already a huge problem.

“I find it quite shocking that nothing is happening.”

Lynk & Co’s first electric vehicle is still two years away, but Vissier insists the PHEV is perfect for the job it needs to do.

“For the foreseeable short term future, it’s a PHEV and it’s a perfect solution.

“It is a total mobility solution and the electric vehicle is a perfect second car.”

The irony of this is that Geely’s giant Zeekr EV brand started out with a car that was a Lynk & Co reject, because Vissier didn’t want it in his brand.

“It’s true. The Zeekr 001 was the car we didn’t want,” he admitted.

“After the brand launched in 2016, some of the criticism was why such a big car as an urban brand?

“Arriving with the 001 as a five-meter saloon would have been totally contrary to what our customers were telling us. I don’t think this car fits our brand.

“Then Geely made the decision to launch Zeekr as a premium brand.”

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