May 01, 2019
François here from ABDZ. Here it is, the mega recap from my recent trip to China for the Shanghai Auto Show' 19. I was invited by Geely / Lynk & Co to take part on this 3-day journey to learn more about the 3rd biggest car company in China. In this article, I will share my experience from visiting the Geely Research & Development centre in Hangzhou Bay, taking the Geely / Lynk & Co cars for a spin on tracks, learning about what's next in the future with Lotus and getting an insight about the design process at the Geely design studio. It has been such a thrilling experience and I even had the opportunity to learn more about Geely.
After a delicious breakfast buffet on the hotel 28th floor, we took a 2 hours journey right outside Shanghai into the city of Hangzhou Bay where we visited the Geely Research & Development centre. We had the opportunity to learn more about Geely and what it stood for the Chinese market and to the World. I will have to admit that I have NOT known about this company only but since we have been covering launches for Lynk & Co but not before that. But when you are actually here (in China), you can totally see by your own eyes how big is this company. As a matter of fact it's the 3rd biggest car company in China and it's not an oversimplification.
Geely is a global brand with many branches especially passenger vehicles under Geely Autos like: Lotus, Lynk & Co, PROTON, and Volvo and more. Officially known as Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Geely was established back in 1986 and entered the car industry in 1997. They have been making their own cars ever since, things have been even going for the better when Geely acquired Swedish car maker Volvo in 2010. And they completed the acquisition of British taxi maker The London Electric Vehicle Company in 2013 and a majority stake in British sports carmaker Lotus Cars in 2017.
It doesn't stop there! Geely Group includes new business brands like Caocao (ride-hailing service that took us from the airport to the hotel as transportation), and educational institutions, motorsports and tourism business. They would also establish initiatives to help families living in poverty in China. Mainly to help them with a focus on education and environmental protection, the project is entitled: "Geely's Timely Rain", learn more.
Video: "Refined cars for everyone"
After the presentation, we made our way to another centre where we had a tour inside the test labs where we would see the cars going through an emission test for example. It's pretty impressive to see what the cars will go through and what data they would gather from these tests. After the tour, we slowly took a walk to the "Test Drive" site where most of us were deeply anticipating ever since reading the planned itinerary program. And they didn't mislead the wait, we had to test drive not one but four cars. We had the honor to drive the: Geometry A, Lynk & Co 01, Borui GE, Lynk & Co 03 and a Geely car is not yet announced yet. Stay tuned!
The entire experience felt like being part of the 1987 Outrun Arcade game where when you are driving on the tracks, the entire background doesn't move at all while you are pedalling the speed. It was a lot of fun and most of us had an enjoyable nap on the way back to the city.
Lynk & Co 01
Lynk & Co 03
Day Two - Shanghai Auto Show
We started the day bright and early and headed our way to the Shanghai Auto Show. All the streets were packed with buses, it literally took 1+ hour to get to the Shanghai, National Convention & Exhibition Centre. It was an only 27km distance from our hotel, it was very packed. It almost felt like it was the only event happening in a city of 26+ million people.
Lotus introducing the Type 130 - World's first electric British hypercar
Getting past security, we rushed to the Lotus presentation. Right on time, they introduced what they previously shared with the group the night before. It was a phenomenal experience to spend time with some of the people working behind the Lotus brand over dinner and drinks. At the presentation, they have introduced the Type 130. Set to become the first all-electric hypercar from the British manufacturer, huge news! Type 130 continues the legendary bloodline from Lotus during its 71-year history, which has seen a number of true game-changers introduced from the Norfolk, UK based brand in both motorsport and sportscars.
Type 130 will be the most dynamically accomplished Lotus in our history. It marks a turning point for our brand and is a showcase of what we are capable of and what is to come from Lotus. - CEO Phil Popham
Video: "Introducing the Lotus Type 130"
Geely unveiling PREFACE Concept Sedan
Having presentations back-to-back, we rushed to the Geely presentation, sitting right on the second row of the action. They have unveiled the PREFACE Concept sedan, the brand’s first high-end sporty sedan. Developed under Geely Auto’s highly acclaimed Expanding Cosmos design language and previews the high-end, personal, sporty models that will be launched by Geely in the future.
In their words
Through the usage of the highly flexible CMA architecture from its parent company Geely Holding Group, Geely Auto is able to create a vehicle that has a sporty and elegant profile. The PREFACE combines the safety of CMA, Geely Auto’s high standard of quality, and humanized intelligent drive technologies to offer users a sportier refined driving experience. The unveiling of the PREFACE shows Geely Auto’s insight into the future market trends, in which users demand more high-end, personal, dynamic products. The unveiling of a concept sedan signals a return to Geely’s roots in sedans and the brand’s intent on setting new benchmarks in the global market.
Filled with cutting-edge technologies, PREFACE exhibits the fast pace of Geely’s development and offers an insight into Geely Auto’s vision of the future high-end, personalized, sporty sedan. Designed in Geely Design Shanghai, PREFACE further develops Geely Auto’s Expanding Cosmos aesthetics. Vice President of Geely Design Shanghai Guy Burgoyne commented
This is a continuation of Geely’s expanding cosmos design identity, reflecting that we have completed an orbit, but we are not simply going around again, we are sling-shotting ourselves forward, onwards to the next great challenge.
Lynk & Co on open innovation and collaboration
Our friends from Lynk & Co where we have seen their progression to the fastest growing brand ever since their launch back in 2016. They have built such a rad exhibit space to showcase their set design, shiny cars, and philosophy of their lifestyle brand. I loved it a lot! For their presentation, they have shared updates on how 110,000 Lynk & Co 01 users participated in creating the latest model update for the Chinese market. I truly love this mindset and how the brand wrote history in the final WTCR race of the season opener at Marrakech. They have won the first ever FIA World cup victory in motorsport for a Chinese brand. Staying true to its foundations of being open and challenging, Lynk & Co continues to have an open dialogue with like-minded consumers globally. This consumer-centric approach is an ever-evolving part of the global mobility brand as it paves the way towards Europe.
Thanks to its bold customer-oriented focus, the Lynk & Co 01 update has ten new features, from ergonomic improvements, like an adjustable armrest, to design enhancements like the modification of the front grille.
Video: "A historic WTCR day for Lynk & Co Cyan Racing"
Shanghai Auto Show in Pictures
After the series of keynotes, we were left to ourselves to explore. I took the liberty to navigate through the huge Shanghai, National Convention & Exhibition Centre where many concepts cars, new technology were shown and more. You can view the article here.
Started a new day bright and early but only to explore Shanghai. I took the liberty to visit the China Art Museum that I will share my pictures on ABDZ in the near future. Later in the day, we all met to visit the Geely Design Studio located near the China Art Museum actually. This is where ABDZ was much more fitted in terms of what we do share on the blog, I had the opportunity to learn about their design process! Do you know how cool is that?
During the presentation, it was a similar presentation we had at the Geely Research & Development center in Hangzhou Bay. Now we know that Geely have studios all over the World including Shanghai, Gothenburg, Barcelona, California and more. But they went a bit more in details from the exterior design, interior design, color trim, digital modelling, clay prototype, engineering and more. I was really intrigued to learn about what does behind the experience on the user interface inside the car. You tend to forget since you are in the Chinese market, user behaviours are different in terms of background, needs, laws and more. We even visited the studio where we actually saw a live clay prototype of the PREFACE Concept sedan we previously saw the day before at the Shanghai Auto Show. It was quite surreal since they all go beyond the digital sketches.
Video: "For a Beautiful Pursuit"
As we were leaving from our last endeavour, we noticed this enormous plane parked in the space across the street. It was a nice way to end this remarkable journey learning about this growing company and how they would position themselves to the World.
A side-note from my experience
As for me, I am super thankful to get the privilege to experience something like this. It's not every day you get a chance to learn from what is happening on the other side of the World from the 3rd biggest car company in China. And it truly makes you fully more aware of how the World is immense and we are still getting started. I would love to send my gratitude to everyone I met from Geely, Lynk & Co, Lotus and not the least Influence Associates. Thank you.
- Cover image by me and edited with Osore Presets