The refreshing vision of car brand Lynk & Co: subscriptions and sustainability
Published on 12 October 2021
‘Changing mobility forever’. That's the mission of the new car brand Lynk & Co. This Swedish company offers cars online through a highly flexible subscription system. It is as focussed on sustainable production and recycling of its cars as it is innovative in its approach to car ownership.
At Lynk & Co you do not buy a car, but you lease it on a monthly basis, including maintenance and insurance.
Since time immemorial, cars have been bought and used the same way. You walk into a showroom, take the car for a test drive and order it in the configuration you prefer. The factory will then start the production process and will deliver the car, sometimes months later. Once you have it, you only use the car for 4% of the day. The other 23.5 hours of the day, it remains unused. “There is very little flexibility in the way we use cars”, says Alexandra Odbjer, sustainability manager at Lynk & Co. “It's all about possession, while the megatrends in society show that we are moving to a system of using products and mobility.” The Swedish newcomer – founded by the Chinese Geely and Volvo – completely flips things around. “You don't buy cars from us, but you lease them. This includes maintenance and insurance. What makes us unique is that we lease cars on a monthly basis. If, for example, you only need a Lynk & Co for your vacation, that's possible.” And the dealership? You need to order your Lynk & Co car online. There are physical locations, but these take the form of Lynk & Co clubs: elegant ‘lounges’ in Amsterdam, Gothenburg, Antwerp and Berlin. They offer space for workshops and concerts and allow you to get acquainted with local brands.
'Everything revolves around ownership, while the megatrends in society show that we are moving towards product use and mobility'
You lend your car to Lynk & Co members who opt for a membership without a fixed car. The smartphone acts as a digital access key.
Sharing is caring
You can make the Lynk & Co in front of your house available to your street or neighbourhood. If you want, that is. You can simply lend your car to Lynk & Co members who have a subscription without a fixed car. The smartphone is used as a digital key. By sharing the car, you will get part of your subscription fee back. “Lynk & Co is innovative in its approach to combining lease cars and shared cars”, Odbjer explains. The car brand, which was founded in 2016, is also innovative in other areas. “We offer a plug-in hybrid in two colours. Those are all the options there are. You don't need more. Every model is luxuriously equipped by default. By limiting the options, we can deliver our cars far more quickly.”
Lynk & Co currently offers one model in Europe, the Lynk & Co 01.
Lynk & Co currently offers one car model in Europe, the Lynk & Co 01, a five-door SUV. It appears the company wants to keep its portfolio small in future. In a recent interview, the Belgian CEO of Lynk & Co, Alain Visser, stated that he could barely imagine the brand offering more than three models as part of the subscription system. A small city car or a fully electric car are, in his opinion, the most logical additions, but the company values ‘simplicity’ above all else. After all, their slogan is: ‘We make cars. We make communities. We make it simple.’
Smart use of materials and reuse is of immeasurable importance to Lynk & Co.
The fact that Lynk & Co remains the owner of its cars should make it easier for the company to control its material flows in the recycling phase.
Recycling of the Lynk & Co
The fact that Lynk & Co retains ownership of its cars should make it easier for the company to monitor its material streams in the recycling stage. Lynk & Co admits that they have the key to closing the circle at their disposal, but that it is still too early to ‘close the loop’. In automotive terms, the company is barely ‘out of its nappies’. Odbjer does say that smart use of material and reuse will be of immeasurable importance to Lynk & Co. “Don't forget that many car manufacturers make money from the maintenance of their cars. We don't have that source of income. It's our goal to keep the cars out of the garage. We only replace parts if this is really necessary, and we aim for long lifecycles for our cars. That way, we want to draw as little from the material streams as possible.” Because the cars are shared, the production of new cars can stay low, the sustainability manager stresses. “The cradle-to-gate emissions are kept to a minimum, and the cars have similarly low emissions on the road. The plug-in hybrids can drive electrically, and therefore emission free, for up to 70 kilometres.”
Because Lynk & Co itself remains the owner of its cars, it retains control over its material flows in the recycling phase.
Recycled fishing nets
At Lynk & Co, sustainability is more than just an important company value, Visser says. “To us, it is an all-encompassing commitment: from the design of the car and the company model to the building materials of our clubs.” The Lynk & Co 01 is the world's first car with Econyl seats: a material made of waste materials and recycled fishing nets. Odbjer stresses that this is only the beginning. “We're very interested in the use of recycled materials, and we research this extensively. We don't just look at plastics, but at other materials as well. When it comes to using recycled materials, we do have the condition that there should be no compromises when it comes to quality. This means not all materials are suitable.” The research and development budget of Lynk & Co is currently also spent on innovative concepts like modular construction. “The parts of our cars should be able to be properly reused at the end of the car's lifespan.”
The car is equipped with Econyl seats, a material made from waste materials and recycled fishing nets.
The first contours of that philosophy are already visible. Lynk & Co does not allow its battery packs to reach the recycling phase quickly. A long lifecycle is the priority. “We aim for remanufacturing of the battery pack first. We only opt for recycling if there really is no other solution,” Odbjer says. Like dozens of other car importers, Lynk & Co outsources the collection and recycling of used propulsion batteries to ARN. “We participate in the ARN Beheerplan. Through a collective system, they take care of the collection and recycling of propulsion batteries of the hybrid and, later on, electric cars.”
'We are very interested in the use of recycled materials and do a lot of research into this. We don't just look at plastics, but also at other materials'
Lynk & Co does not allow its battery packs to quickly reach the recycling stage.
The perfect route
The Li-ion batteries collected by ARN, like those of Lynk & Co, can be processed via two routes. If the battery packs are still in good condition, they get to enjoy a second life. Companies with a so-called ‘end-of-waste ruling’ – those are NPP Power Europe, Time Shift energy storage and EcarACCU - will then look after the batteries. They collect the battery as waste and turn it into a new stationary application. This is usually a type of energy storage system.
The second route entails the batteries crossing borders, to a battery processing company. This company dismantles the battery in accordance with a very strict process. After deep discharging or neutralisation by other means, the processing company will remove the casing and wiring. The battery modules or cells are processed through pyrolysis, shredding, mechanical separation or hydrometallurgy. Currently, at least 70 percent of the battery weight is reclaimed this way, and, through innovation, percentages of 90 percent may be achievable in future.
Lynk & Co is active in seven European countries, including the Netherlands.
About Lynk & Co
Lynk & Co is active in seven European countries, including the Netherlands. With 25,000 club members, 1,700 members with a car in their driveway and quite a number on a waiting list, it is clear that the new mobility concept is popular, especially in urban areas. Alexandra Odbjer: “Leasing a car on a monthly subscription basis that can then be used as a shared car may be a completely new concept, but the response shows that the Netherlands are more than ready for it.” If people really insist, it is possible to buy rather than lease a Lynk & Co, but this is not the company's focus.