Alain Visser It is not only Manager from Lynk & Co but also the soul of this Sino-Swedish carmaker (created by the Chinese by Geely but based in Sweden to Gothenburg), which revolutionizes the automotive world thanks to the formula forall inclusive subscription to 550 euros per month (formula chosen by almost all customers in Italy, the brand’s second largest market after the Netherlands). We had the opportunity to interview him along with other journalists during an informal meeting at the brand’s headquarters, which saw the birth (in 2016), grow and run.
Alain Visser: the biography of the CEO of Lynk & Co
Alain Visser – born on September 24, 1963 ad Antwerp (Belgium) – he entered the automotive world in 1987 and covered over 17 years Ford various senior positions. In 2004, he was appointed Marketing Manager in General Motors and from 2009 to 2012, he was Vice President of Sales, Marketing and After Sales Opel. Was preoccupied with Volvo in 2013 as Vice President of the Global Department of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, since 2015 he has been CEO of the new brand Lynk & Co.
What does the name Lynk & Co mean?
I want to be very honest. I read an article a few months ago that said “link” was the connection between East and West, while “Co” represented the fact that we were producing something more than a car. I thought “It looks smart”, but we were not so smart: The truth that “Lynk” was the car’s project name, and I thought it was a boring name. In 2016, I was sitting in a taxi in Gothenburg with the woman who was in charge of marketing at the time, and we said “We need a name that does not sound like a car manufacturer”: at that time, we added “&”, which is usually used in the fashion world, and then we saw that “Lynk & Co” sounded good and we kept it without testing it. Everyone hated him: the engineers, the designers. After final approval, the then former chief engineer came to my office and said “You should be ashamed! We worked for five years on a fantastic car and you gave it the name m …”.
Could you describe the Lynk & Co brand in a few words? How does it differ from Volvo and Polestar (two other brands owned by the Chinese giant Geely, ed.)?
Lynk & Co is the automotive industry’s Netflix: a mobility provider that wants to create a cool experience. An all-inclusive monthly card that you can stop whenever you want, 550 euros and the option to share the car. Volvo is a traditional brand that modernizes its way of working, and I think it is the most advanced car brand among those who use the classic business model with dealers. Polestar, on the other hand, specializes in electric and hybrid high-tech models. Volvo and Polestar are two cool and innovative car manufacturers, we are a car service company.
Who are your competitors then?
I see more rental companies than car manufacturers, even though no one is currently doing anything like us. We launched the idea in 2016, and I’m surprised six years later that no one has come close to our formula yet.
Why has no manufacturer tried to focus on season tickets?
In my opinion, for two reasons: the first is that they continue to make money with the traditional sales model, and the second is that there is a lack of visionary CEOs. The only one is Elon Musk: the others are either brilliant businessmen or excellent engineers.
Lynk & Co also focuses on clubs and car sharing …
Clubs are part of Lynk & Co that can not be copied: You can build an online business, but not a brand. In clubs, there is interaction that is sustainable products: they are cool places that leave a message that is not necessarily related to the car. In Rome, for example, we did not exhibit the car. In July we open in Barcelona, while the second Italian club in October will be born in Milan. As for car sharing, we have some customers in Amsterdam who are making money by sharing their 01.
What models will we see in the future in the Lynk & Co series?
The original idea was to immediately launch an electric model, but the charging infrastructure in Europe is not good: only Norway has an extensive network. So now we have 01 plug-in hybrid, which packs the best of both worlds with 70 km range in electric mode and a heat engine for longer trips, but the next car in line will definitely be fully electric: it comes approx. 2023. / 2024.
How important is sustainability for Lynk & Co?
The majority of our employees – people who would never have worked for a car manufacturer – are here for this: If we did not have a credible sustainability strategy, they would leave us. The car industry says it is sustainable because it produces electric models, we try to go further: we have leather-free interior in Econyl (derived from recycled fishing nets), the materials in the clubs are environmentally friendly, but above all we focus on a more sustainable use by car. Currently, a car is used 4-5% of the time: our goal is to make it circulate longer, which is why we offer car sharing. There is no need to work on volumes when you can make use of usage time.
Is the electrical transition inevitable?
Of course: Gasoline prices are rising, electric car sales are growing, as are range and price lists. The only problem is recharging: governments are pushing for more and more zero-emission models, but they are doing nothing to increase the number of charging stations.
Several Italian politicians say it is in the service of China to stop thermobiles in 2035. What do you think?
I do not understand their position: China puts a lot of pressure on electric cars and batteries, in America Elon Musk showed everyone how to build electric cars while Europe stood still. I do not think the election favors the Chinese, I think it will punish those who have slept so far and those who came too late.