BEIJING Chinese automaker Geely is set to launch a new car brand - Lynk & Co - on Oct. 20, sources said, as it seeks to broaden its appeal by tackling the middle market.
The brand will be used to launch the first vehicle based on the Complex Modular Architecture (CMA) platform developed by Geely and Volvo, which Geely acquired six years ago.
Reuters was first to report in April that Geely would launch a new middle market brand, codenamed "L", to compete with Chinese-foreign venture cars such as those produced by GM and SAIC Motor Corp - leaving Volvo to focus on the luxury end and Geely to go up against domestic producers.
The "L" codename represents Lynk & Co, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, a company which has already launched a holding website, showing next week's launch date.
Geely declined to comment.
The website - lynkco.com - shares Internet license and other registration details with Geely and China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT), a subsidiary that coordinates research and development with Volvo. The site does not, though, provide details on the brand or cars.
"As you have seen on the Lynk & Co website, CEVT is indeed the company behind this website and it's no secret that it is developing the CMA platform for Geely Auto," said Stefan Lundin, a CEVT spokesman based in Sweden.
Lundin said Lynk & Co would launch on Oct. 20 in Berlin, but declined to elaborate on the nature of the venture.
Lynk & Co will enter a tough Chinese auto market where the car industry has struggled with slowing economic growth since last year. Geely has weathered the slowdown better than most, with sales of its feature-packed cars growing for 16 consecutive months to September.
Launching a new car brand can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, according to James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief for IHS Markit Automotive.
The marque's cars would first be sold in China and later in the U.S. and Europe, sources told Reuters in April.
A separate Lynk & Co website posted to its official Weibo account announces a contest to guess what future modes of transportation might be.
"What can cars still bring us? What new possible means of travel will tomorrow bring?"
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Eric Meijer)