Renault and Geely’s previously announced tie-up could see the former build Chinese-designed vehicles in Korea for global markets.
Reuters reports Geely will manufacture its Lynk & Co 01 mid-sized SUV, among potentially other Lynk & Co vehicles, at the Renault Samsung Motors plant in Busan, Korea.
Renault and Geely confirmed back in August they would “explore the localization” of Lynk & Co models in Korea, while also introducing Renault-branded hybrid vehicles in China.
A source told Reuters the Lynk & Co 01 would be produced in Korea with both petrol and hybrid power, though no mention was made of the available plug-in hybrid.
Renault Samsung Motors, of which Renault controls an 80 per cent stake, will also reportedly sell versions of Lynk & Co vehicles.
It’s unclear where this leaves the Renault Koleos. The model is approaching the end of its lifecycle and has already been discontinued in Europe, where it’s tipped to be replaced by a three-row version of the Kadjar-replacing Austral.
The production of Lynk & Co models in South Korea could give Geely the opportunity to enter the US market, taking advantage of the free-trade agreement between the US and South Korea.
Sources told Reuters that Geely is weighing such a move.
Lynk & Co has already professed its global aspirations. It recently entered the European market, while it plans to launch in Australia by 2025.
The tie-up with Geely will help shore up Renault Samsung Motors, which has been experiencing sagging sales.
Including exports, Renault Samsung Motors sold 116,000 vehicles in 2020, or almost half its 2017 tally. It’s sitting at 120,000 vehicles to the end of November.
The tie-up with Geely will also allow Renault to re-enter the world’s largest car market, as it dissolved its ailing Chinese joint-venture with Dongfeng last year.
As part of its re-entry into the Chinese market, Renault will reportedly co-create a new, plug-in hybrid-focused brand with Geely. The two companies will manage it jointly and could share supply chains and manufacturing facilities.
Models in this Chinese brand will use the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that underpins, among many other vehicles, the Volvo XC40, but Reuters reports Renault will focus on the design, sales and marketing of the new brand.
CMA also underpins the Lynk & Co 01, first introduced in China in 2017.
A facelifted model launched in 2021 and went on sale in European markets with a choice of two powertrains, a hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and a choice of two paint colours, blue and black.
It shares its plug-in hybrid powertrain with the Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid.
Lynk & Co debuted a subscription model in 2021 that allows European owners to own a 01 for as long or as little as they’d like with no hassles.
The membership costs €500 (A$782) per month and includes up to 1250km of driving in that month, with the unused mileage carrying over to the next month.
For every kilometre over the allotted 1250km per month, it costs an additional 15c (23c).
In the Chinese market, Lynk & Co also sells the small 02 and 03 hatchback and sedan, small 05 and 06 crossovers, and the flagship 09 large crossover.
Most models use the CMA architecture except the 06, which uses a Geely platform, and the 09, which shares its SPA platform with the current Volvo XC90.
An electric concept called the Lynk & Co Zero was revealed in 2020, using Geely’s new Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) for electric vehicles, however it was subsequently launched under a new Geely brand name: Zeekr.
Geely’s plan to roll out the Lynk & Co brand in Australia is part of an overarching plan to sell 3.65 million units per year across its Geely Auto, Lynk & Co, Geometry and Zeekr brands.
It’s also aiming to sell over 600,000 vehicles in overseas markets.
The company’s introduction of the Lynk & Co brand will be the first time Geely has sold cars under one of its Chinese brand names in Australia since a short-lived run of its namesake brand.
Sold from 2009 to 2014, the Geely brand offered only a single model, the small MK hatch and sedan, and only in Western Australia. The lack of electronic stability control prevented importer John Hughes from expanding its availability to other states.